Ewan C Goligher MD is an Intensivist at Toronto Western Hospital and a doctoral student in the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
Stephen W Hwang MD MPH is a General Internist at St. Michael’s Hospital and Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario.
The writing is on the wall. Physician-assisted death is very likely to soon be legal in Canada. Although legal decisions cannot put to rest ethical controversy, the winds of public opinion have shifted considerably, and policy changes will probably gain rapid and widespread acceptance in Canadian society. Requests for assisted death will become more frequent. Canadian physicians, of whom only a minority have indicated a willingness to provide or administer lethal doses of the drugs at their disposal, will therefore be faced with the serious personal ethical challenge of deciding whether to honour such requests and whether to refer patients to physicians willing to accommodate such requests. ...continue reading