Queen's University

Legalizing assisted dying in Canada a step in the right direction: Queen's University expert

2013-11-12

Queen’s University medical ethics expert Udo Schuklenk is available to comment on a Canadian woman who travelled to Switzerland to end her life legally. Susan Griffiths, who was suffering from a degenerative disorder, died this morning at a clinic in Zurich. One of her last wishes was that she could have died in Canada.

“It is unfortunate that Canadian citizens wanting to end their lives in a manner, and at a time of their choosing must still resort to travelling to Switzerland to achieve their objectives,” says Dr. Schuklenk. “Isn't it time for us as a society to make assisted dying available to competent dying patients who do not consider their lives worth living any longer? The majority of Canadians hold that view, even medical specialists thinks the decriminalization of assisted dying would be desirable. Current legislation gives rise to what can best be described as 'death tourism' to Switzerland. This surely is unacceptable. It will be interesting to see whether Quebec's attempt at making assisted dying available to its people will become valid law, because it would be a step in the right direction, also for Canada as a whole.”

He was the head of a Royal Society of Canada panel in 2011 that recommended Canada legalize assisted suicide, and is the co-editor of the journal Bioethics.

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