Canada Health Alliance

How Bill C-7 Will Sacrifice the Medical Profession’s Standard of Care

Trudo Lemmens, Mary Shariff, Leonie Herx

As Parliament discusses Bill C-7’s expansion of the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) Act, one issue has been conspicuously absent from public debate, even though it has major implications for medicine and for patients: the impact of the bill on the role of the medical profession in determining the standard of care, as it applies to MAiD.

… The most often-voiced seriBous criticism, which we endorse, is that the bill’s second-track access system violates the right to life of people with disabilities and chronic illness, and discriminates against them. If implemented as written, Bill C-7 will expose only people who have a chronic illness or disability to a higher risk of premature death as a result of medical system-organized MAiD, even when they are not approaching death.

… Bill C-7 displaces the long-standing professional rule of the “standard of care” – which obligates physicians to apply their skills and intricate knowledge to a patient’s particular clinical circumstances – and replaces it with patient choice.

… the Supreme Court’s reiteration of the right to refuse treatment appears to be translated in the context of Bill C-7 as a confirmation that MAiD should always be the standard of care when MAiD is what a patient wants.

We believe this is a misapplication of the doctrine of “informed consent.” To accept this constitutes a wholesale abandonment of the idea that the medical profession has a responsibility to make considered medical determinations based on evidence, unique knowledge and expertise.

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