Doctors Can’t Unilaterally Pull Plug in Canada

Readers of Human Exceptionalism might recall the Hassan Rasouli case. Rasouli, a devout Muslim, had a stroke. His doctors wanted to force him off life support over the objection of his family, who claim he would want to live. Litigation ensued.

The Canadian Supreme Court just ruled that it isn’t up to the doctors. From the Toronto Sun story:

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that doctors can’t unilaterally withdraw life support against a family’s wishes, even if they believe medical treatment is futile.

The ruling applies only to the province of Ontario.

This doesn’t mean the hospital won’t be able to force him off of treatment. Merely, they will have to go through an administrative process:

In a 5-2 decision, Canada’s highest court ruled physicians at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto cannot decide on their own to pull the plug on Hassan Rasouli and must go to the Ontario Consent and Capacity Board to resolve the dispute. “End of life decisions must follow a fair, inclusive and accommodating process,” the court ruled.

These processes can be very intimidating to patients and families. But it beats a unilateral plug-pulling.

Please note that the hospital and doctors want to stop the treatment because it works–e.g., it maintains Rasouli’s life–not because it is unefficacious.

In Futile Care Theory, continuing life is what isn’t wanted by doctors/bioethicists, even when it is wanted by patients/families. In essence, they are calling the patient futile. In other words, an ad hoc death panel.

We hear so much about a “right to die.” The real and growing problem we face is “no right to live.” 

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

Most Popular

U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More