Bill S-248: Advanced Directives

Status: Passed second reading in the Senate

Description: Allows advanced directives for euthanasia. The current euthanasia law requires a person to consent to euthanasia immediately before the lethal injection. This proposal would waive that final consent if that consent was provided in writing at an earlier date. A person might want an advanced directive if they were worried about losing the capacity to consent in the future (e.g. due to dementia).

Analysis: The passage of this law would allow another class of Canadians – those who might in the future no longer have the capacity to consent – to access euthanasia. Advanced directives assume that a person knows with perfect certainty what their future self wants. They leave out the possibility that a person’s wishes and desires might change and that their future self, even if they are no longer able to give legal consent, might not want euthanasia. Although these advanced directives are invalidated if a person demonstrates a refusal to be euthanized, advanced directives open the door to the possibility that doctors may end the lives of their patients in many situations after the patient has lost the ability to consent at their discretion.

Action Items: None

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