Physicians require clear direction to provide medical assistance in dying

OTTAWA, May 19, 2016 /CNW/ - The Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FMRAC) believes that neither Bill C-14 nor the recommendations tabled on Tuesday by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs provide adequate clarity on patient eligibility for medical assistance in dying (MAID). 

FMRAC's concerns focus on barriers to patient access to MAID, lack of patient autonomy and a lack of clarity on a number of key components in Bill C-14. For example, Bill C-14 only allows for medical aid in dying for patients whose "natural death has become reasonably foreseeable". 

"This is legal language that is far too vague for physicians," said Dr. Gus Grant, President of FMRAC.  "If it remains, physicians will be unable to confidently determine eligibility for some suffering patients."

Furthermore, Bill C-14 fails to provide specific language with respect to consent and eligibility for the suffering patient with declining competence. The Bill makes it clear that only competent patients may be entitled to medical assistance in dying.  This means that those whose competence is declining will have to receive medical aid in dying before becoming incompetent.

Also, while physicians cannot be compelled to deliver MAID, FMRAC submits that a physician's freedom of conscience cannot interfere with, impede or delay patient access to care, including MAID.  FMRAC endorses the principle set out in the Canadian Medical Association's Code of Ethics that the primary duty of physicians is "to consider first the well-being of their patients."  Managing physicians' moral objections must not impose a burden on patients.

FMRAC urges the Federal Government to take the necessary time to get appropriate legislation in place.  In the meantime, the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Carter has provided direction to FMRAC's members in guiding the medical profession.  FMRAC supports a consistent approach to medical assistance in dying across the country and will continue to work with governments at the federal and respective provincial/territorial levels to achieve it.

FMRAC is the national organization that represents Canada's 13 provincial and territorial medical regulatory authorities.  FMRAC's members regulate the practice of medicine on behalf of the public interest.  Neither FMRAC nor its members are advocacy organizations for physicians.

 

SOURCE Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada

Image with caption: "Logo: Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada (CNW Group/Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160519_C7486_PHOTO_EN_695224.jpg



For further information: Ms. Fleur-Ange Lefebvre, Executive Director and CEO, Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada, www.fmrac.ca; Email: falefebvre@fmrac.ca, Office: 1 613 738-0372 x2602, Mobile: 1 613 796-0372

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