Aug 28, 2015
By Jane Brown
While most Canadian doctors say they would refuse ending the life of a gravely ill patient, a growing majority of Canadians appears to support physician assisted death.
A new Forum Research poll finds 77 percent of the population believes in doctor assisted death for people who are terminally ill and requesting to die. That number is up ten percent from a similar poll conducted by Forum just four years ago.
Wanda Morris is the CEO of Dying with Dignity Canada. She says, “the poll shows a real momentum and increasing support for assisted dying and validates the Supreme Court decision in February that struck down the federal law against the practice.”
The poll results come the same week that the Canadian Medical Association released an internal survey that found 63 percent of its members would not provide medical aid in dying to a patient who requested it. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they would.
University Health Network palliative care specialist Doctor James Downar tells Zoomer Radio News, he’s not surprised by the sentiment expressed by doctors.
“In countries that have legalized this and where this has been widespread practice for years, it’s still a contentious issue and there are still very many physicians who for reasons of conscience will not participate in assisted death, so I wouldn’t have expected that this number is going to move dramatically, certainly not within a couple of years, and I think, within a generation, you will probably see a shift in those numbers,” Downar explained.
At the CMA’s annual general meeting in Halifax this week, a resolution was passed committing to developing guidelines for the assessment of patients who request an assisted death.