The MAiD 10-day waiting period: is it doing more harm than good?

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  • Jackie says:

    I’m sad to even have this discussion. My mother requested, with the support of our family, to pursue assisted death. Cancer, terminal, uncontrolled pain, begging for the suffering to end. We begged for assisted death. My mother asked four different doctors to help her die with dignity. After asking four different doctors, whom all agreed her prognosis was poor… weeks to live… she had to then wait 10 days, which is actually 12 days. It didn’t end there, Her wishes were not met. We then had to ask two additional doctors, not involved in her direct care to make a decision based on her capacity. I say again, two additional doctors that were not involved her care. Pardon? How are these “new” doctors to to decide and overrule the actual doctors involved with my mother’s ongoing care. My mom’s family doctor held her hand and sat in beside her and shed tears. She agreed assisted death. My mom’s oncologist held her hand and supported assisted death. Why then do we need two disconnected doctors? I’ve met them, they walked in our home, stood beside my mom. Mom, was on a very caring regiment of palliative care medications to ease her suffering. Narcotics for pain and sedatives. Even after a full capacity signing the request for assisted death, with two non bias witnesses present and signed, she was deemed not capable to decide because during the “10 day waiting period” she lost capacity to decide. Obviously!! She wasn’t capable, she was on heavy narcotics and sedatives. No more waiting period. Stop letting people suffer. Sign the form with capacity and let it happen as they wished. Their choice, not mine, not yours, not the public’s, not the governments, theirs and theirs only. Respect the dying.

  • Toby Stewart says:

    I have advocated decriminalizing assisted voluntary suicide altogether — get it out of the criminal code — period!
    For the reasons you have described above Dianne… and for several others which have been experienced with this flawed restrictive half-measure since its royal proclamation.
    I wholeheartedly endorse your logical humane suggested remedy for the illogical 10 day wait period — as at least a small step toward improving this particular flaw — which, as you have observed, has caused unnecessary suffering (the very antithesis of the intent of the Supreme Court when they struck down the old law as violating all Canadians Charter Right).
    Each of us nor our MDs or NPs must not be criminalized for choosing how (with or without medical assistance) and when we die —
    Otherwise, some of us will choose much more violent means to exercise our right-to-die — which will undoubtedly be much more traumatic to not only our families and friends left behind, but also to any innocent onlookers and others such as train/bus/truck drivers, and first responders.
    Thank you Dianne for helping advance to freedom-of-choice in this regard.

  • Dalv Arora says:

    I think that Canada’s sick healthcare system stands to do nothing but benefit from assisted suicide. More so if the mentally ill, but otherwise health can also become candidates to euthanasia. The hippocratic oath can fly out the window, and thus, the gargantuan failure that is socialized healthcare can cut one more cost. So now we’ll have doctors in the business of ending lives, healthy lives at that when the mentally ill become part of assisted suicide. Why wait 10 days ? Instant death for anyone who wants it, no waiting period or reflection required.

  • Paul Anderson says:

    Thank you for writing about this very important subject.

    Given the fact that MAiD involves the active termination of a human life, the complete elimination of a requisite period of reflection would seem extremely irresponsible.

    While the existence of the 10 day waiting period might be perceived in some instances as an unnecessary delay that merely prolongs suffering, there are other cases in which the waiting period might result in the person who originally requested MAiD having a change of heart. This possibility becomes an especially important consideration as Canada contemplates making MAiD available to individuals whose death is not reasonably foreseeable, including people whose suffering is not physiological but psychological in nature, and mature minors.

    Many of us have been through times in our lives when we might well have opted for MAiD when our situation seemed hopeless or intolerable. I would think that in a great many of those cases people are glad, in retrospect, that MAiD was unavailable to them at that time.

  • Observer says:

    Im sorry, do you want to streamline the medically assisted death process? Please lets not get trigger happy with this new power we’ve been given.
    Disappointing coming from a SENIOR ethicist.

    • Dianne Godkin says:

      I firmly believe that a patient’s wish for a medically assisted death should be sustained over time; my argument is that a 10 day waiting period that begins with the patient making a written request does not achieve this goal and has caused unintended harms.

    • Toby Stewart says:

      There is no such thing as universal ethics which apply to all of us homo sapiens… Therefore
      I wonder who’s ethics are you promoting? … your own personal biases, or those of some un-named interest group? …with its own hidden agenda? I question the ethics of either of those.
      The only ethics which come into play as I choose when and how I will die — are my own ethics and values — not yours, nor those of some interest group/church/lobby!
      IF I were silly enough to choose you or some other medical practitioner (with the “new power we’ve been given”) to perform my MAID, you might object to performing MAID for me on the basis of your personal ethic and that’s fine — but that would be my problem for not dismissing you (unless you had led me along and then ‘switched’ on me at the last minute) as soon as I initiated my quest to you for my MAID.
      And while we’re considering ethics, how ethical is it to not use your proper full name (like most people who stand behind their positions)? … recognizing that you could also ‘game’ that by using a real-sounding false name.


Dianne Godkin


Dianne Godkin is the Senior Ethicist at Trillium Health Partners and holds a PhD in Nursing from the University of Alberta and completed a Clinical Ethics Fellowship with the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics.

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