Bioethics News

Canada Today: End-of-Life Stories

In summary, this is a brief article consisting of multiple short stories. They particularly provide perspectives of patients in Canada who have faced end-of-life situations. Based on Catherine Porter’s article, there are various contextual motives behind these patients’ decisions to discontinue treatment or choose euthanasia. However, there is a common, general theme for such clinical practices. For example, a patient named June Vaile had been suffering from near-total blindness due to macular degeneration.

Subsequently, her learning of having colon cancer was a relief to her. Knowing this was an opportunity to attain medically-assisted suicide, Vaile sought this to end the misery associated with her inability to enjoy her life pursuits resulting from her former condition. Likewise, a patient named Eva McLeod was also diagnosed with cancer. Prior to such revelation, however, her mother had passed away. Already distraught, and fearing continued emotional pain from the onset, she viewed euthanasia as a palatable means to the end of suffering.

These two patients demonstrate that death is not always a immoral type of action in itself. The overall life circumstances of a patient may be too severe to warrant the continuation of a functional, healthy life. Therefore, death may be justified. This affirms the humanity through beneficence and non-maleficence in compliance with societal moral standards and our obligations to patients. Thus, patient narratives are very important. Such provides a personal, humanistic viewpoint to the identity that patients present in the clinical setting. Consequently, in the case of end-of-life situations, healthcare professionals are empowered to become more compassionate and prepared to serve the greater welfare of the patients and practices moving forward.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.