UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Ethics of Dying: Deciphering Pandemic-Resultant Pressures That Influence Elderly Patients’ Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) Decisions Khawaja, Masud; Khawaja, Abdullah

Abstract

The objective of medicine is to provide humans with the best possible health outcomes from the beginning to the end of life. If the continuation of life becomes unbearable, some may evaluate procedures to end their lives prematurely. One such procedure is Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), and it is hotly contended in many spheres of society. From legal to personal perspectives, there are strong arguments for its implementation and prohibition. This article intends to add to this rich discourse by exploring MAiD in the context of our current pandemic-ridden society as new pressures from social isolation and guilt threaten the autonomy of vulnerable elderly patients. Although autonomy is of chief importance, variables within our current context undermine otherwise independent decisions. Many older individuals are isolated from their social network, resulting in a decline in their mental health. Individuals in such a state are more likely to request a MAiD outcome. Furthermore, overwhelmed healthcare systems may not adequately address this state, which would normally have prompted a mental health intervention. The future of MAiD is far from settled and careful consideration must be given as new contexts come to light, such as those outlined in this paper.

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CC BY 4.0

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