Essential safeguards identified to protect vulnerable people from abuse in assisted dying law

Hugh Scher

Hugh Scher

The following article was published by Advocate Daily on March 3, 2016.

Toronto constitutional and human rights lawyer Hugh Scher is endorsing the Vulnerable Persons Standard, a list of evidence-based safeguards to protect Canadians requesting physician-assisted death who may be subject to coercion and abuse.

“There is certainly no guarantee that this standard alone is going to prevent unwanted deaths or the impact on our culture of legalized assisted death,” says Scher, principal of Scher Law and a frequent commentator on assisted dying issues.

“That said, the standard goes a long way to providing a level of protection against the risk of abuse of vulnerable people. It does provide for an effective means of oversight, which is essential in the event that this policy of assisted death is to possibly be safely implemented in this country.”

The Vulnerable Persons Standard includes the requirement for access to palliative care, and for two physicians as well as a judge or tribunal to sign off on a death. There is a requirement that consent be received at the time of the death, and that the consent is assessed at that time.

The standard has wide support among medical, legal and community-based organizations, including the Canadian Association for Community Living, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Vivre dans La Dignite and the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada.

Scher is counsel for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, a leading national and international association of doctors, nurses, people with disabilities and of leading experts on euthanasia and assisted suicide practices in foreign jurisdictions.

The intent is for the standard to become part of the new legislation or a form of regulation as the federal government prepares to introduce a new law on assisted dying.

Link to the full article