Conscientious Objection and Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in Canada: Difficult Questions - Insufficient Answers

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Peter G. Brindley MD FRCPC, FRPC Edin, FRCP Lond.
Jeff P. Kerrie MD, MSc (bioethics) MD, FRCPC


“Conscientious objection” typically implies refusal to participate in an action based on strongly held ethical beliefs. It is historically associated with refusing to fight on the grounds of personal conscience or religion.2 Like other military allusions such as collateral damage or life in the trenches, its usage has spread into wider societal use. Conscientious objection is now used in regards to opposing euthanasia in Canada. Euthanasia, in turn, is now referred to by the less emotive term, Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). Most medical practitioners and hospitals that object do so in part because of their disagreement or discomfort with the act of killing. As such, the analogy is not wholly unjustified. What is less clear is how this construct, and this terminology, will ultimately affect patients, practitioners, administrators and politicians.
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