May 9, 2022
National Association of Catholic Nurses-Canada (NACN-Canada)/
Association Nationale des Infirmières Catholiques-Canada (ANIC-Canada)
PO Box 19525, Manulife PO, Toronto ON M4W 3T9
Special Joint Committee on Medical Aid in Dying
To Whom it may concern,
I am writing to recommend that you recommend the strongest possible restrictions on access to medically administered death that are permitted under Bill C-7. When this legislation is used to expedite death, there is pressure on health care professionals to limit thorough assessments and interventions to relieve suffering before making referrals to act on patients’ requests for death. Health professionals are not only brokers, acting on patients’ “autonomous” wishes. Asking them to expedite referrals for medically induced death fundamentally undermines the nature of health care. Your committee must allow for extensive assessment and treatment to relieve suffering and suicidal ideation.
Many patients are vulnerable. Since health professionals hold more power than their patients, we urge you to recommend that the request for medically induced death must not be listed as an option by the clinicians responsible for their care. Note that some health professionals lose hope for their patients and favour medically induced death for those whose quality of life they consider severely impaired. This is a form of coercion.
A grandmother in my family who had stage 4 cancer had her hospital physician offer twice at a university teaching hospital to induce death, stating that she had only weeks to live and adding, “What’s the use?” The family called him “Dr. Death” and complained to the hospital’s client relations office. This woman was capable of refusing the physician’s offer and died with excellent palliative care at home months later. Unlike our family member, not every patient has the strength to refuse recommendations to choose induced death.
Our association urges your committee to recommend the strongest possible limits on medically induced death for mature minors, those with disabilities, those who need access to palliative care untainted by medically induced death, and those who anticipate cognitive impairment.
Helen McGee, President
National Association of Catholic Nurses – Canada