Saturday, October 19, 2013

End of life decisions

The Supreme Court of Canada this week that doctors in Ontario could not unilaterally decide to withdraw ordinary life support from a patient they considered effectively dead. It is important to emphasize (contrary to some media reports) that the decision was based on Ontario statute law and does not apply across the country.

Basically the decision held that end of life determinations are to be decided (in Ontario) by the family, or duly appointed personal representatives or a government tribunal specifically empowered to decide.

Of course with modern medicine the ghastly risk is that a living corpse - basically a body still living while the soul has departed - might be kept alive by a family refusing to accept that death has come.

But the alternative, that someone desperately ill but still living might be killed by their own physicians, is equally dreadful.

The Court's decision is, to a degree, a compromise but it does see the shading where others see only black and white.


Kendo Gaijin said...
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gabriel said...

I think it's worth noting that in this case, the doctors in fact misdiagnosed the patient, who turned out not to be in a PVS as claimed by the doctors who wanted to ensure his death.