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BC Supreme Court Strikes Ban on Assisted Death

Gloria Taylor, photo by Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Last Friday, the British Columbia Supreme Court issued a ruling in Carter v. Canada, a landmark court case which took a hard look at Canada's ban on medically-assisted death and found it wanting. The BC Supreme Court struck down the ban as unconstitutional and gave Parliament one year to draft new legislation regarding assisted death.

While Parliament works on new legislation, the Court granted plaintiff Gloria Taylor, who has ALS, a constitutional exemption to request assistance in dying assuming certain conditions are met. According to the Farewell Foundation's blog, the conditions mentioned in the ruling include "requirements that she make a written request, be terminally ill and near death, of sound mind, and fully informed of treatment options such as palliative care." These conditions are quite similar to the safeguards in the Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts.

Since the ruling, there's been a barrage of articles about the ruling and no shortage of opinion pieces. Some of the more astute op-eds summarize the sentiment of the BC Supreme Court ruling: not all assisted death cases are the same and a blanket ban isn't allowing enough options for people facing the end of their lives.

Read more: BC Supreme Court Strikes Ban on Assisted Death

This Week in the Movement

Old news by Jason de Villa, on Flickr

Throughout the week, we keep people up-to-date with information about the Death with Dignity movement and other topics related to end-of-life care through Facebook and Twitter. Below are highlights from this week.

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

BMJ Urges Move to Neutrality on Death with Dignity

Stethoscope by David DeHoey, on Flickr

In a reasoned move, the British Medical Journal today called for all professional medical bodies in the UK to take a neutral stance on Death with Dignity laws. This viewpoint, put forth in an editorial by Fiona Godlee, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal, urged the British Medical Association (BMA) and the various royal colleges to move their official position on Death with Dignity from opposition to neutrality.

The editorial followed a recent poll of physicians in England asking if they favor or disfavor a move to neutrality. Of 1,000 physician respondents, 62% agreed that the BMA and royal colleges should move to a position of studied neutrality.

Godlee drew parallels to the position of professional medical bodies on the issue of abortion, noting these same organizations were opposed to abortion until a change in the law was imminent. She said, "A change in the law, with all the necessary safeguards, is an almost inevitable consequence of the societal move towards greater individual autonomy and patient choice…and it may not happen until we value death as one of life's central events and learn to see bad deaths in the same damning light as botched abortions."

Death with Dignity has been the topic of debate in England for many years. It's played out in Parliament, in the courts, and in the media.

Read more: BMJ Urges Move to Neutrality on Death with Dignity

Time Magazine Teaches Us How to Die

Time Magazine cover "How to Die"

Dr. Christian Sinclair is the editor of Pallimed: A hospice and palliative care blog. He's passionate about health care professionals engaging the public through social media. You can follow him on Twitter @ctsinclair or @pallimed.

This article originally appeared on Pallimed and is republished with permission

Some of you may have caught the stark red cover of Time magazine last week with the bold white font and minimalist design, which let you know lurking within those pages was a story that would let you know "How to Die." (Subscription required)  Now as you may recall, Time magazine was recently lauded/lambasted for the breast feeding cover featuring a 3 year old on his mother's breast. So initially I thought this was Time magazine jumping into sensationalism again to increase magazine sales, but then on further thought would people really be stampeding the newsstands for this subject?

Read more: Time Magazine Teaches Us How to Die

This Week in the Movement

"Yesterday's News" by Zarko Drincic on flickr

Throughout the week, we keep people up-to-date with information about the Death with Dignity movement and other topics related to end-of-life care through Facebook and Twitter. Below are highlights from this week.

Efforts to enact Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

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Defend dignity. Take action.

You are the key to ensuring well-crafted Death with Dignity laws for all Americans. With your financial and volunteer help, the Death with Dignity National Center, a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, nonprofit organization, has been the leading advocate in the Death with Dignity movement. Individual contributions helped us pass new Death with Dignity laws in Washington and Vermont, defend the Oregon law, and provide education and outreach programs for the vitality of the Death with Dignity movement.

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