Suffering as a Criterion for Medical Assistance in Dying

In Jaro Kotalik & David Shannon (eds.), Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in Canada: Key Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Springer Verlag. pp. 2147483647-2147483647 (2023)
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Abstract

Canada has followed the pattern of Benelux nations by legislating sufferingSuffering as the pivotal eligibilityEligibilitycriterionCriterion for euthanasiaEuthanasia/assisted death without requiring terminal prognosis as is needed in most permissive jurisdictions. This chapter will explore the relationship between sufferingSuffering and Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) and the ways in which sufferingSuffering is understood in the Supreme Court of Canada, the federal Criminal Code legislation and by health care assessors. Based on this analysis, we will argue that the resulting sufferingSufferingeligibilityEligibilitycriterionCriterion leaves the law open to unintended forms of interpretation, thus instituting perhaps the most unbounded and risk-prone form of assisted death in the world. A review of the literature on sufferingSuffering, the wish to dieWish to die, and reasons for MAIDReasons for MAID requests found sufferingSuffering of severe illness to be frequently associated with unstable mental health, social, and existentialExistential variables that are often amenable to therapy or remediation. While sufferingSuffering remains a powerful motivating force to seek opportunities to relieve distress, its use as an eligibilityEligibilitycriterionCriterion for MAID has significant ambiguity in its’ characterization of ‘enduring’ and ‘irremediable’ and thus fails to protect against abuse for the vulnerable.

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