Alec Yarascavitch wins National Health Law School Essay Competition

  • May 30, 2017

The CBA National Health Law Section is pleased to announce that Alec Yarascavitch is the winner of the inaugural Law School Essay Competition for his paper entitled, Assisted Dying for Mental Disorders: Why Canada’s Legal Approach Raises Serious Concerns.

The award was established to promote and reward interest in health law topics in Canadian law schools and to promote participation by law students in the Section.

The CBA National Health Law Section gratefully acknowledges the support of the competition sponsor, Carbert Waite LLP – Calgary, Alberta.

Alec Yarascavitch is an emergency physician and a third-year student in the JD/MBA program at the University of Toronto. He is an active member of the health focused communities at both the law school and business school, and he continues to maintain his clinical practice during his studies. Alec has a strong interest in health law, policy and regulation, and he is passionate about the health of individuals and populations. He believes that Canadians deserve care that is accessible, efficient, affordable and sustainable, and that policy change and business insights are fundamental to providing Canadians with the highest quality health care while restoring their confidence and pride in their public health system. He is confident that the insights necessary to solve the most pressing health care challenges of today and tomorrow will be found where care delivery, business principles, and health law and policy intersect.

Here is an abstract of the winning paper, Assisted Dying for Mental Disorders: Why Canada’s Legal Approach Raises Serious Concerns.

Critics of Canada’s new assisted dying law argue that its exclusion of mental disorders is overly restrictive, asserting that the fundamental values of autonomy and dignity on which Carter was decided apply equally to mental and physical disorders. However, we must be careful not to let individual interests blindly eclipse our societal interest in protecting vulnerable groups. Assisted dying for mental disorders presents significant ethical, clinical, and legal challenges and it should therefore be approached with extreme caution. This essay explores the potential effects of mental disorders on decision-making; the lack of rigorous capacity assessments; the difficulty of holding physicians accountable; the inherent challenge of “irremediabilty;” the right to refuse treatment; the diverse legal meanings of “mental disorder;” the lack of proximity to end-of-life; and the suboptimal state of Canada’s mental health system; and how the cumulative effect of these issues raises serious concerns about assisted dying for mental disorders.

Read the winning paper*

*The views expressed in this essay are solely the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Canadian Bar Association.