Luke Savage

MAiD is not the answer to mental health. It’s not the answer to suffering. And it is not something physicians (or nurses, or anyone in the healing professions) should be doing. In regards to mental health and a request for death, how do we determine who might get suicide prevention, and who would get suicide assistance? 8-1-1 is the number for both - how does the operator determine which pathway to move someone down? If a suicidal patient is brought to the emergency department, how do we determine if we call the psychiatrist or the MAiD team? Many patients with chronic mental health struggles know how to play the system, to say the right words to get what they want, even when their sense of reality is altered and their insight is poor. Allowing MAiD for mental health is a minefield for wrongful death. Most physicians did not take the Hippocratic Oath. And yet most Albertans believe their doctors took that oath to do no harm, and to “neither give a deadly drug when asked for it, nor to make a suggestion to that effect.” Most Albertans would be shocked to know their physician did not take the Oath nor stands by it’s principles. Providing MAiD goes against the Hippocratic Oath and causes multiple negative ripple effects: it undermines the trust patients give to their physicians, it suggests that ending a patient’s life is an acceptable way to solve trials and tribulations, it puts vulnerable patients at risk as some lives are seen as not worth living, it removes innovation in medicine as it is easier and cheaper to facilitate death than to support living and find new solutions for suffering. Modern medicine developed codes of ethics for a reason - to prevent a repeat of the medical atrocities of the early-mid 20th century - many of which were legal under the governments of the time. Just because a government changes a law does not mean medicine should change the standards or codes of ethics to accommodate that law. In fact, it is quite the opposite, particularly when it involves purposefully ending the life of patients. Our standards/codes of ethics do no good if they change at every whim of the government. Who knows what they might require next? As a teaching from 2000 years ago says, “you can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.”

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