Change debate on MD-assisted death: doctors

By: Sheryl Ubelacker, The Canadian Press

 | Apr 07, 2014 - 3:34 PM |
TORONTO - A group of palliative-care doctors says it's time to move beyond the "yes or no" debate about physician-assisted death and begin preparing for its eventual legalization in Canada.

The doctors say in a commentary in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that physicians need to discuss potential policies and guidelines for legally assisting death.

They argue that assisted suicide may become legal if the Supreme Court of Canada overturns a 2012 B.C. court ruling that deemed a ban on the act unconstitutional.

The High Court will hear an appeal of the case in which the B.C. court granted Gloria Taylor a constitutional exemption to get help to end her life. The ALS patient did not use the exemption, but died of an infection.

Quebec also was looking at legalizing doctor-assisted death with Bill 52, which died on the order paper when the provincial election was called.

Commentary co-author Dr. David Downar says practice guidelines to protect patients and to safeguard physicians are among issues that need to be determined.

Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.

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