Webcast archive: What information about euthanasia should be gathered?

This week, we go over the information that must be collected in order to track the euthanasia program effectively.

In this episode of Euthanasia & Disability, Amy Hasbrouck and Christian Debray discuss:

  • What information about euthanasia should be gathered?
  • CBC “documentaries” need a response

Please note that this text is only a script and that our webcast contains additional commentary.


  • The federal government’s ministry of health will need to decide over the next few months what information to collect about assisted suicide and euthanasia (AS/E) to put in its reports.
  • We anticipate another struggle, between a government which wants to provide limited information, and advocates who want a very complete picture of the parties involved in AS/E.  Specifically, it’s important to know about the people involved, the factors that led to the request, the approval process, and the outcome of the request.  Advocates believe this is the only way to understand how euthanasia affects society, and to hold parties accountable for their actions in enforcing safeguards on assisted suicide and euthanasia.
  • Activists also believe that detailed information will demonstrate that services that render people dependent will account for a large percentage of people who ask to die.  This evidence will help to challenge the way services are currently provided (mostly in institutions, by home-health agencies or unpaid family caregivers).
  • TVNDY has prepared a list of information we believe the government should collect on every case of assisted suicide or euthanasia.  This information should be kept for an indefinite time, but not less than 25 years, so future researchers can study how the program evolved from the beginning.
  • The confidentiality of the person can be assured by leaving their name and identifying information out of the record.  Physicians who approve and perform euthanasia will be identified by their license numbers only; their names and coordinates will be kept in separate private records.
  • Demographic information is needed to understand who is receiving assisted suicide.
    • What is the person’s gender, age, race, city or region, marital status, family composition
    • What is their living situation?
      • In what kind of setting do they live, (home, hospital, institution, etc.)
      • Do they receive help with activities of daily living (from family/volunteers, agency-provided staff, independent employees) or are they independent?
      • Does the person have problems with their living situation? (lack of access, services needed not being received, suspicion of abuse, etc.)
    • What are the person’s socio-economic circumstances (e.g. income, and its source), education, work history, their assets, etc.
    • What language(s) does the person speak and are they getting services in their first language?
    • Does the person have supplemental health or life insurance?
    • Does the person have a primary care doctor?
  • What is the medical condition(s) prompting the AS/E request, the  date of onset, and the date of diagnosis?  What is the prognosis, and the factors contributing to that the belief that the person’s death is reasonably foreseeable?
  • Does the person have a history of suicidal or self-harming feelings or behaviors?
  • What are the reason(s) the person states that they are seeking AS/E; i.e. the specific nature of the intolerable suffering?
    • What reasons for AS/E are observed by physician or nurse practitioner.
  • What were the results of any inquiry into possible abuse?
  • Include information about primary and consulting physician or nurse practitioner, such as:
    • What is the professional’s name, license number and coordinates?
    • What is the professional’s area(s) of medical specialty and certification?
    • What is the duration of the relationship with the person?
    • What is the nature of the examination and tests performed?
    • How many AS/E procedures has the professional approved and/or performed?
  • How many physicians were consulted (“doctor shopping”)? Did the person make previous requests?
  • Was a psychiatric evaluation performed?
  • Was the family consulted?  (If not, why?)
  • Were alternative interventions (e.g. additional medical treatment, disability related supports including home care services, and palliative care) made available, accepted or refused?
  • Were alternative interventions (e.g. additional medical treatment, disability related supports including home care services, and palliative care) helpful in alleviating the person’s “intolerable suffering”?
  • Was a pro-euthanasia advocacy group or volunteer involved?
  • What was the outcome of the request:
    • If the person was determined eligible, explain why?
      • What was the method, date, place and manner of death, and the elapsed time between administration of the drug and death?
      • What complications occurred, if any?
      • How much time passed between making the initial request and death?
    • If the request was denied due to ineligibility, state the reason for ineligibility (also, what follow-up support was given to the person determined ineligible);
    • Was the request withdrawn, and if so, why?
    • Whether the person died before AS/E could be carried out;
    • Whether the physician refused to perform AS/E (conscientious objection).  If so, how did the person find another practitioner to perform the euthanasia?
    • Was there some other outcome?


  • On the season premier of CBC’s “Firsthand” documentary series (Thursday, October 6 at 9 p.m.) the network will present two documentaries about assisted suicide/euthanasia.  The first, “A Beautiful Death” (http://www.cbc.ca/firsthand/features/a-beautiful-death1) appears to be a typical piece of pro-euthanasia propaganda.  The second “The Road to Mercy” (http://www.cbc.ca/firsthand/episodes//road-to-mercy) seeks to “identify the limits of the newly granted right to kill to die” (sic).  From the description it also appears to be a propaganda piece for euthanasia and assisted suicide, but with a semblance of “balance” to satisfy “the other side”.
  • It is important that the disability community watch and comment on this program, as painful or rage-inducing as it may be.  We need to report “Firsthand” that life with a disability is not a fate worse than death; comments on the website will be an important opportunity to do just that.  The more the CBC hears from us, the more seriously they will take the silent majority of disabled people who are not dead yet.