The perspective of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) was one of the most widely sought after responses following the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that current legislation banning medical aid in dying is unconstitutional.
CMA President Chris Simpson who was visiting the Northwest Territories on behalf of the CMA when the decision was made conducted interviews with most major media outlets in Canada including the CBC, CTV, Globe and Mail, Canadian Press, Postmedia and Maclean’s magazine on the day of, and the weekend following, the decision.
Simpson was able to clearly articulate the CMA’s main points about wanting to help craft any legislation dealing with medical aid in dying as well as respecting the perspectives of all CMA members on the issue.
The CMA also sent an email to all members the day of the decision stating these same views.
“Our main task now, as an association, is to work with the legislatures, our patients and others to make sure that any potential law contains safeguards against abuse and protects the rights of patients and physicians, both those who elect to participate and those who elect not to participate,” said Simpson in the letter.
One of the most detailed interviews with Simpson was conducted by John Geddes of Maclean’s.
“… over the next 12 months …. we’ll need to balance the need to provide this service (medical aid in dying) to the small number of patients who need it and are eligible for it and protecting physicians from being coerced if they don’t want to participate in this,” Simpson said in that interview.
“We have to provide the educational tools and the regulatory framework that would allow this to be done in a way that makes everyone feel that the vulnerable are meticulously protected, but that those who need this procedure do get it in a timely way.”
As he did with many other publications, Simpson also used the Maclean’s interview to restate the CMA’s position calling for better palliative care for all who require these services.
The CMA Board of Directors will consider the associations’ next steps on end-of-life care during its regularly scheduled meeting at the end of this month.