Assisted Dying in Canada

Christopher A. Riddle, Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Director of the Institute of Applied Ethics, Utica College, NY, USA, email:

Nearing the end of 2011, The Royal Society of Canada’s Expert Panel on EndofLife Decision Making released a detailed report exploring both the feasibility as well as desirability of making assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia legally permissible.  A report with similar recommendations was also released not long after by a Select Committee of the Quebec National Assembly on Dying with Dignity.  Both reports, while strongly recommending palliative care, ultimately suggested that assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia should be legally permissible.  This has understandably sparked a heated debate across the country.  My intention here is to support, albeit briefly, the findings of these reports.  While there are many objections to these reports, including, but not limited to the legal, religious, and medical, I will focus on what I view to be the most common concern expressed by disability theorists and advocates.

Margaret Somerville, a Catholic, legal scholar at McGillUniversity, expressed a concern in Canada’s National Post that seems to be echoed throughout disability literature on the topic. Continue reading