discussion at all. Even recognizing it’s
okay to kill your patient is terrible. But if
we’re going to have it, and this is the reality now, I think that we have to be very
clear where it could apply. It should only
apply in the most rare and narrow of circumstances. It has to have all kinds of
procedural safeguards, like you can never
give an injection without the express individual permission of a court.
If you go back to the Rodriguez case
[Rodriguez v. British Columbia, 1993], chief
justice Beverley McLachlin was in the
minority. She said we safeguard this by
requiring judicial regulation. We can
quote her as saying this is what we need.
If you were to lock someone up in a
psychiatric institution for a few hours,
you’d have to get court authorization. All
of those things say when it is a very, very
serious decision, you can’t just make it for
yourself. That would be one of the things
I would require.
You have to be able to offer people
totally adequate palliative care that includes full pain management. It’s a disgrace in all our Western democracy that
we don’t do that. I’ve been heavily involved in advocating that it is a breach of
fundamental human rights for a health
care professional to leave someone in
FT: Do you believe if we had better palliative
care, the demand for euthanasia would not be
MS: It would decrease in practice when
people get good palliative care. A very
large percentage decide they don’t want
euthanasia – research tells us this. Not all,
You can sugar-coat evil. You can get used to it.
As familiarity increases, the ethical warning
but most. The other thing is that legally
you can’t get informed consent to assisted
suicide or euthanasia unless you have offered a person alternatives. You have to
have good palliative care in order to obtain
informed consent. The end-of-life so-called care act in Quebec [Bill 52] says you
do not have to have palliative care, and the
Canadian Medical Association in the brief
they put into the Supreme Court expressly said it was not a condition that you have
palliative care to have access to physician-assisted death. That is shocking.
I try not to be cynical. I call cynicism
secular society’s major moral shortcoming.
F T: Thank you, Margaret. /FT
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