‘Canadian doctors don’t want to assist in suicide’—new survey

The majority of Canada’s palliative care specialists don’t want to participate in assisted suicide, according to a survey recently conducted by the country’s Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP). The survey – discussed in the latest edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal – revealed that only 25% of CSPCP members would be open to helping patients end their lives.

75% of respondents said assisted suicide fell outside the perview of palliative care (even when one adopts the World Health Organization’s definition of palliative care).*

Although some palliative care doctors may choose to assist patients in ending their lives once that becomes legal, others believe that who should actually administer lethal doses of medication is still an open question. 

“There’s a huge misconception out there that that’s what palliative care is —it’s all about death”, remarked CSPCP president Dr. Susan McDonald. “No. The great majority of it is about life and living life as best as you possibly can”.

  “[Assisted suicide] It’s not part of our practice and we don’t anticipate it will become part of our practice,” says Dr. Doris Barwich, the Society’s past president and current executive director of the British Columbia Centre for Palliative Care.

In a landmark decision on the 6th of February, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that prohibiting assisted suicide is unconstitutional and a violation of the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Various healthcare organisations and representative bodies are currently debating the practicalities of the new law. 

*Subsequent to the publication of this story on the 7th of March, the CMAJ have made a correction to their original article. The CSPCP study found that not 56% but rather 75% of respondents didn't think they should provide assisted suicide or euthanasia. The CMAJ had originally reported 56%.

This article is published by Xavier Symons and under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

comments powered by Disqus

 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed

 Recent Posts
Australia launches inquiry into safety and ethics of transgender medicine
18 Aug 2019
Fertility becomes a global money-spinner 
18 Aug 2019
‘Sperm sharing’ schemes in UK make IVF cheaper
18 Aug 2019
Push in Germany for legalisation of surrogacy
18 Aug 2019
Should countries compete to have the most permissive stem cell regulations?
18 Aug 2019

Home | About Us | Contact Us | rss RSS | Archive | Bookmark and Share |

BioEdge - New Media Foundation Ltd © 2004 - 2019