The following is my response to the Toronto Star article written by Hilary Young concerning the unanimous decision by a three judge panel by the Ontario Court of Appeal. The doctors have asked the Supreme Court of Canada to hear an appeal of the Rasouli decision.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition intervened in the Rasouli case and argued that doctors do not have the unilateral right to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment and that the proper place to make these decisions, even though the system is not perfect, is at the Consent and Capacity Board.
I sent this response to the Toronto Star, who did not print it. Please read:
Young sets up false issues with false assumptions.
First: The Rasouli family did not agree with having the ventilator withddrawn from Mr. Rasouli, but they were told that the doctors did not require their consent. Therefore the family brought the case to the court asking for an injunction to prevent the doctors from withdrawing the ventilator. Justice Himel decided that the family did not require an injunction because consent was required before the ventilator could be withdrawn and she referred the case to the Consent and Capacity Board.
Second: The Consent and Capacity board exists in Ontario to settle disputes between families and doctors in these circumstances. The "doctors" refused to bring the case before the Consent and Capacity board and they appealed it to the Ontario Court of Appeal who unanimously agreed with Justice Himel that consent was required before the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment could be withdrawn, and consent could be obtained from the Consent and Capacity board.
Third: The Rasouli family agreed to have their case heard by the Consent and Capacity board but the "doctors" instead have refused to do so and they are now asking the Supreme Court of Canada to hear the case.
Finally, the Consent and Capacity board makes decisions in a timely manner after hearing from all sides of a question. It is important to note that in 15 years of operation, there have only been two cases in Ontario that have been appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal, meaning that even though the Consent and Capacity Board is not perfect, it has worked well in Ontario.
Why do the "doctors" refuse to take this case to the Consent and Capacity board? Because they continue to insist that the doctors have the unilateral right to decide to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment or care that they deem to be futile.
It is clear that Hilary Young is wrong when she suggests that the Rasouli case may create an entitlement to medical treatment when in fact, all it did was ensure that doctors do not have the unilateral right to decide by agreeing that families and doctors need to go to the Consent and Capacity board when they disagree on medical treatment or care decisions.
Families and substitute decision makers, within a pluralistic society, should have the opportunity to defend the wishes of their loved one and doctors should not be given the unilateral power to withdraw life-sustaining treatment or care.