I recently read an article that has inspired me to create this blog post. The article was written by Mr. Andre Picard for The Globe and Mail titled “We can’t debate the assisted dying law without data”. He indicates that Bill C-14, the legislation on medical assistance in dying that was recently put into law, remains somewhat elusive with regards to its effectiveness due to insufficient data available for the Canadian public since its genesis earlier this year. “This lack of public discourse Canada-wide is troubling” Picard mentions, also stating that the evaluations of current regulations around this legislation should be influenced by proper collection and analysis of medically relevant data. Properly monitoring this pertinent information will help us accurately evaluate the success of this new law, including protecting the rights of health-care professionals and autonomous eligible patients. For instance, Picard believes that there is anecdotal evidence that indicates Canadian physicians may be denying reasonable requests of assisted death due to the partially ambiguous and subjective phrasing within Bill C-14. Without these official numbers, a lack of transparency can possibly lead to an inaccurate assessment of the success of this new law overall – an important piece of information for all Canadians, and especially for those who hope to die with dignity.
The assertion that Canadian citizens and healthcare professionals currently have insufficient data to properly assess the effectiveness of the new medical assistance in dying legislation is of great importance. When it comes to verifying the effectiveness of a highly controversial law, Canadians should take solace in the fact that their government has prepared the proper plan of action to continuously monitor these procedures and policies. At minimum, this would provide the framework for recognizing any potential issues with how the system is currently being implemented, while also allowing for the necessary strategic adjustments to ensure the highest effectiveness of these practices. Without this, how can the Canadian public be sufficiently relieved that the new legislation is in fact beneficial? How can we be assured that access to medical assistance in dying is being appropriately practiced in Canada, while simultaneously not being abused for the patients whom are not deemed to fit the necessary criteria for physician assisted death?
As we advance forward, we must continue to stress the importance of transparency from our government, for our worthy citizens and healthcare professionals alike. We must strive to ensure that our public can take confidence in medical advances, innovations, and policy changes, which will help to better serve the health and wellness of our citizens overall. When it comes to the choice of medical assistance in dying, we must ensure that our healthcare professionals are equipped with sufficient knowledge and information, allowing them to assess patients on a case-by-case basis in an unbiased and respectful manner. With a current lack of available research and information, it could lead to convoluted and increasingly difficult decision-making for physicians who are prosed with the dilemma of following through with their patient’s request for dying with dignity.
Picard, A. (2016). We can’t debate the assisted dying law without data. The Globe and Mail. www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/we-cant-debate-the-assisted-dying-law-without-data/article31837713/