HAT Forum
Sat April 23rd 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 304
Topic: “Medically Assisted Dying from a Humanist Perspective"
Proposer: Richard Dowsett

“Human Ethics: Ethical decisions should be made in the context of real people, real situations, real human needs and aspirations and the consideration of real consequences. Humanism combines personal liberty with social responsibility. It affirms the dignity of every person, the right of the individual to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others, and the need for community. Without this context we risk the worst excesses of ideology.”

The above is Principle (vii) from the HAT Constitution: Section 3 - Declaration of Principles. It seems to be the one most pertinent to the discussion of Medically Assisted Dying (MAD).

Below is a link to the Government’s proposed Bill C-14 “to amend the criminal code in respect of Medical assistance in Dying” and another link to the Special Parliamentary Committee’s report. Let’s discuss the differences between them, whether they are reasonable and how Humanist principles can help guide our thoughts and feelings:

1.    “Advanced directives” were recommended by Committee but are not part of C-14.

2.    MAD for “matures minors” was recommended by Committee but is not part of C-14.

3.    MAD for mental health conditions was recommended by Committee but is not part of C-14.

4.    A 15 day Period of Reflection is part of C-14, against the recommendations of the Committee.

5.    To gain the exemption for MAD, the applicant must “have a grievous and irremediable medical condition” that includes death being “reasonably foreseeable” according to the opinion of the doctor of nurse practitioner. Is this a reasonable condition?

6.    Is it fair to expect medical practitioners to risk a trial, up to 5 years in jail and loss of their medical license every time they conduct a medical procedure because the law is so subjective?