Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Religion & Euthanasia - Legislation

To build on the previous blog regarding Religion & Euthanasia, we would like to talk about the legislation related to it. We would also like to take the opportunity to discuss a few of the important cases related to the refusal of medical procedures on religious grounds. Although the focus of our blog is related to Canadian legislation, a few cases from other countries will be discussed simply to give the topic some context.

The right to refuse medical procedures on religious grounds would not exist in Canada if there was no legislation behind it. The ‘Health Care Consent Act’ was enacted in 1996 and it is the piece of legislation that upholds the rights of a patient to choose the type of medical treatment they receive. The purposes of this Act are:

(a) to provide rules with respect to consent to treatment that apply consistently in all settings;

(b) to facilitate treatment, admission to care facilities, and personal assistance services, for persons lacking the capacity to make decisions about such matters;

(c) to enhance the autonomy of persons for whom treatment is proposed, persons for whom admission to a care facility is proposed and persons who are to receive personal assistance services by,
(i) allowing those who have been found to be incapable to apply to a tribunal for a review of the finding,
(ii) allowing incapable persons to request that a representative of their choice be appointed by the tribunal for the purpose of making decisions on their behalf concerning treatment, admission to a care facility or personal assistance services, and
(iii) requiring that wishes with respect to treatment, admission to a care facility or personal assistance services, expressed by persons while capable and after attaining 16 years of age, be adhered to;

(d) to promote communication and understanding between health practitioners and their patients or clients;

(e) to ensure a significant role for supportive family members when a person lacks the capacity to make a decision about a treatment, admission to a care facility or a personal assistance service; and

(f) to permit intervention by the Public Guardian and Trustee only as a last resort in decisions on behalf of incapable persons concerning treatment, admission to a care facility or personal assistance services.

A few of the cases regarding the refusal of medical treatment on religious grounds and a brief history of the topic will be discussed in the future...

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