Thursday, November 10, 2011

Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel • End-of-Life Decision Making

OTTAWA, November 9, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - End-of-Life Decision Making constitutes one the most serious social and ethical issues facing all developed countries.

On October 27, 2009, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) announced the commissioning of an Expert Panel, consisting of eminent scholars and chaired by Prof. Udo Schuklenk, Professor of Philosophy and Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics, Queen's University. The Panel was given a mandate to consider the large body of medical science evidence that, if summarized for the public, would be helpful to their consideration of the issue. The panel was also requested to review the evidence and experience from the various jurisdictions that permit physician-assisted death.

While the RSC itself does not have an opinion on these matters, the panel was struck as a service to Canadians, who would benefit greatly from having a careful, balanced review of various pros and cons of the decriminalization of physician-assisted death from well-reasoned ethical and legal standpoints.

On November 15, 2011, the Expert Panel will release its report at a press conference in Ottawa, Ontario. Also on November 15, the report will become publicly and freely available for download on the website of the Royal Society of Canada at:

The main messages that are elaborated upon in the report include:

...What are the principal challenges facing Canadians with respect to End-of-Life Decision Making?

...How does Canada perform in terms of ensuring access to high quality palliative care?

...What are some of the primary legal questions that would benefit from clarification?

...Does the evidence support claims that decriminalization of assisted dying will result in vulnerable persons being subject to abuse, or to a slippery slope from voluntary to non-voluntary euthanasia?

...Should assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia be legal? Why or why not?