Doctors in Canada are Backing Away from PAS

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In a widespread reversal of opinion, doctors in Canada are backing away from supporting and implementing physician-assisted suicide. According to the National Post, in Ontario, one of the few provinces to track this type of information, 54 doctors have asked to be either permanently removed or put on temporary hold on a voluntary list of physicians who were willing to implement PAS.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) says this is happening at a systemic level based on first hand experiences implementing the PAS law. Dr. Jeff Blackmer, the CMA’s vice-president of medical professionalism says “we’re seeing doctors who go through one experience and it’s just overwhelming, it’s too difficult, and those are the ones who say, ‘take my name off the list. I can’t do any more.”

PAS has been legal throughout Canada since June of 2016. Since that time, doctors are seeing a number of problems with the law, many of which often mentioned in the debate in Maryland. These include:

  • Issues surrounding the lethal drug
  • Legal ambiguities and uneasiness by doctors surrounding implementation
  • Determining who qualifies based on the challenges of a terminal prognosis

According to the CEO of Death with Dignity, the group is looking to pass a dangerous provision in Canada to include “advance” consent. This would allow patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness to choose PAS while they are still cognitively competent for future implementation. This expansion would include patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This is an incredibly dangerous proposal that would be devastating to our vulnerable populations such as people with disabilities and the elderly.

Death with Dignity is the same group leading the charge in support of PAS here in Maryland. From Canada we can see their future game plan which moves beyond PAS and includes expanding the euthanasia law. Many states already have proposed legislation that would legalize euthanasia and we know that Death with Dignity is using PAS as only a stepping stone.

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