Assisted Death

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    Kevin Bruch

    Rural Scenario – Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID)

    A patient at a rural health centre asks for assisted death, but none of the local practitioners other than the social worker will help facilitate the request because they believe assisted suicide/euthanasia is morally wrong. The patient presently meets the criteria for a medically assisted death but is afraid she will soon deteriorate and lose her capacity to consent. She does not wish to make a long, painful journey to an urban centre where her request could be granted, and there is in any case a long waiting list. The social worker has an obligation to advocate for her patient and believes that the woman has a right to die with dignity, at a time of her choosing. The social worker also respects her colleague’s beliefs even though they disagree and knows that she has to work with them after this case.

    What ethical principles are relevant in this case? Whose rights have precedence, and why? Should health professionals be forced to provide a service when they find it morally incompatible with their duty to do no harm? What would you do?

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