Report calls for assisted dying in Canada

Nov. 15, 2011 at 8:33 PM
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KINGSTON, Ontario, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- A report commissioned by The Royal Society of Canada calls for the decriminalization of assisted dying in Canada.

Officials at The Royal Society of Canada, a national organization of distinguished scholars, artists and scientists, said it is time for a national debate on end-of-life decisions, including assisted dying.

The report, published in the journal Bioethics, said assisted suicide should be legally permitted for competent individuals who make a free and informed decision.

Udo Schuklenk, co-editor of Bioethics and a professor at Queen's University, said end-of-life decision-making is an issue wrapped in controversy and contradictions for Canadians.

The report found most people want to die at home, but few do; while most believe planning for dying is important and should be started while people are healthy, but almost no one does.

The report said most Canadians support the decriminalization of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide, but both remain illegal under Canada law.

"It is clear that Canadians are not preparing adequately for the death we and all those we love will inevitably face," Schuklenk said in a statement.

"Although most people think it is wise to make wishes for care at the end known less than one-third have some sort of formal advance directive, fewer than half have designated a substitute decision maker or even discussed their wishes with their families and fewer than one-tenth have discussed end of life care with their physicians."

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