First, Do No Harm: New Canadian Law Allows for Assisted Suicide for Patients with Psychiatric Disorders

Mark S. Komrad

Canada just passed a law that radically changes the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable medical practice and has opened a path to euthanasia for patients with psychiatric illness who find their conditions unbearable.

Unfortunately, this is not a new phenomenon. Several countries allow psychiatric patients who are suicidal to voluntarily receive death by lethal injection (euthanasia) or a self-administered prescription for lethal medication (assisted suicide) from physicians.

… This is a profound change in the trajectory of the euthanasia law, and the practice of psychiatry for Canada, which is now the largest nation that will soon allow MAID for psychiatric conditions. It has rocked the professional mental health community in Canada, which fought to forestall the inclusion of psychiatric disorders for euthanasia.

The latest law is disappointing but unsurprising considering the huge pushes for parity and nondiscrimination at all costs. Unlike the in United States, health care in Canada is considered a charter (constitutional) right. Thus, once MAID became a medical procedure, excluding patients with psychiatric illness from this right was nearly impossible.

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