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Canadian bioethicists call for organ donor euthanasia

by Michael Cook, BioEdge, 14 January 2017

Euthanasia was legalised in Canada in June 2016, following a Supreme Court ruling in 2015.

Mr Cook reports that in December 2016 Julie Allard and Marie-Chantal Fortin, bioethicists at the University of Montreal, published a paper calling for organ donation after euthanasia.

As a policy, it has only been rolled out in Belgium and the Netherlands. Between 2005 and 2015, 21 Belgians donated organs following euthanasia. The Dutch lag behind, but so far 15 patients have asked to donate organs following euthanasia.

What is the ethical reasoning behind such a procedure? It is based upon respect for the patients’ autonomy.

Allard and Fortin acknowledge that there might be some ethical complications. Patients might feel that they are a burden and could only be useful if they were to give their organs. This would constitute a subtle form of coercion. However, Allard and Fortin are confident that this can be overcome.

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