24-13-A — Medical Assistance in Dying for Individuals Whose Sole Underlying Medical Condition is a Psychiatric Condition

WHEREAS the Supreme Court held in Carter v Canada (Attorney General) that the prohibition on physician-assisted dying was void insofar as it deprives a competent adult of such assistance where the person clearly consents and has a grievous, irremediable medical condition that causes enduring, intolerable suffering;

WHEREAS the Supreme Court in Carter did not comment on physician-assisted dying for psychiatric disorders and stated that these cases fall outside the parameters of its decision;

WHEREAS CBA Resolution 16-03-A, Medical Assistance in Dying and Psychiatric Conditions, calls for persons with psychiatric conditions who seek medical assistance in dying not to face additional barriers by virtue solely of their psychiatric condition;

WHEREAS the 2018 Council of Canadian Academies report, The State of Knowledge on Medical Assistance in Dying Where a Mental Disorder is the Sole Underlying Medical Condition, found no medical consensus on the irremediability of psychiatric conditions;

WHEREAS the Report found that marginalized populations—including women, Indigenous communities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and youth—experience or are at risk of experiencing mental disorders at disproportionate rates;

WHEREAS permitting medical assistance in dying for those whose sole underlying medical condition is a psychiatric condition would have a disproportionate, gendered impact and risks violating s. 15 of the Charter;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Canadian Bar Association:

  1. Withdraw prior statements supporting medical assistance in dying for those whose only underlying medical condition is a psychiatric condition;
  2. Urge the federal government not to extend medical assistance in dying to those whose only underlying medical condition is a psychiatric condition unless and until there is a reliable manner to determine whether the psychiatric conditions are irremediable; and
  3. Urge federal, provincial and territorial bodies to prioritize facilitating the advancement, accessibility and funding of mental health care supports.

Moved by Garifalia Milousis and Kerri Froc

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