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A landmark Supreme Court ruling, Carter vs. Canada, determined the prohibition of assisted suicide conflicted with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by several parties. This has led to many ethical questions and opposing opinions on whether doctor-assisted suicide is moral and necessary, as well as what restrictions should be in place.

This will be the topic of a debate at VIU on April 7 and April 21. Dr. Paul Kamill, a retired physician, will argue for doctor-assisted suicide. Dr. Oscar Clemotte, a VIU philosophy professor, will argue against it, in favour of better palliative care services for people who require it. Dr. Laura Shanner, a research and consultant in health care ethics, will moderate the debate.

“I am a retired physician who has seen many patients die, some in what I regard as tragic and inhumane circumstances,” Dr. Kamill offered a sneak peek of his argument. “Canada is about to legislate on this, and we need to get it right. Suicide is no longer a criminal offence. As Sue Rodriguez argued, she was discriminated against as a wholly disabled person. She is only one of many—too many—examples.”

The doctors will be discussing the ethics of doctor-assisted suicide and who should, or should not qualify; they will touch on their opinions regarding details such as patients who are mentally ill or mature minors.

The floor will then be opened up to the audience for participation and general discussion. For the April 21 talk, Dr. Shanner will discuss issues moving forward and what the new legislation should look like, followed by audience discussion.

The event is free and open to everyone. It will be held April 7 and 21 in bldg. 200, rm. 203 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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