Give Canadians with dementia the right to make advance requests for assisted dying
The federal government has tabled its legislation on physician-assisted dying, and the draft bill will not grant patients with serious illnesses the right to make advance requests for assisted dying.
If the final legislation does not include advance consent, Canadians with dementia or other degenerative illnesses that rob individuals of their mental competency will be left behind. Without the option to make advance requests for assisted dying, Canadians with an Alzheimer's diagnosis who want the choice of a physician-assisted death will face a tragic dilemma: try to access assisted dying too early, while still sound of mind; or risk waiting until it's too late, only to be condemned to the suffering and indignity they sought to avoid. (To learn more, watch this animated video on why it's so important to allow Canadians with a dementia diagnosis to make advance requests for assisted dying.)
Many more could be barred from access entirely, because their suffering while they are still competent won't be severe enough to satisfy the eligibility criteria laid out in the Supreme Court’s decision in Carter v. Canada. This is not acceptable!
Banning advance consent not only goes against the spirit of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Carter v. Canada, but it goes against the thoughtful recommendations of the government's own Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying. Canadians deserve better, and the 80 per cent of Canadians who support the option of advance consent for physician-assisted dying.
What you can do
We need answers on what the government plans to do to ensure that the rights of individuals with dementia are upheld. Tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott that Canadians deserve real choice in the face of dementia diagnosis. Allowing them to, while they are still competent, make advance requests for physician-assisted dying will help thousands of Canadians plan for peace of mind. Voice Your Choice today!
(Header photo: Adobe Stock/Daxiao Productions)
- Minister of health
New legislation for assisted dying must allow individuals with a diagnosis for a severe illness to, while they are still sound of mind, make advance requests for assisted dying — requests that will only be carried out once certain strict, pre-stated conditions are met.
Without this option, Canadians with a dementia diagnosis who want to access assisted dying will face a terrifying set of choices: either access assisted dying too early, while they are still competent; or wait until it's too late, only to endure the exact suffering and indignity they sought to avoid. Many more could be barred from access entirely, because their suffering while they are still competent won't be severe enough to satisfy the eligibility criteria laid out in the Supreme Court’s decision in Carter v. Canada. This is not an acceptable outcome.
Respect the Charter rights of Canadians who want a full range of end-of-life choices in the face of a dementia diagnosis: please include advance consent for assisted dying in the new federal right-to-die legislation.
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