Perspectives on Medical Assistance in Dying

Prof. Cory Labrecque teaching Perspectives on Medical Assistance in Dying: Ethical, Pastoral, Theological, and Cultural

La version française est disponible.

About one hundred people from across Canada joined a new online open enrolment course at the college in January and February to learn more about how Christians are called to minister at a time in which Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) is legal and a growing number of people are choosing to die in that fashion.

The course was designed to offer a variety of perspectives on MAID, including ethical, pastoral, theological, and cultural viewpoints. Guest presenters included Prof. Cory Labrecque, a biomedical ethicist at Université Laval, as well as Erin LeBrun, a hospital chaplain and instructor at Université de Montréal. Jesse Zink, Dio’s principal, also taught a session.

The course introduced students to how different churches have been responding to MAID, including diverse guidance and teaching from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the United Church of Canada. Through the use of several case studies, students were also encouraged to think about how they could respond when they encountered MAID in a pastoral context, taking account not simply of the person seeking MAID but also family members and others. The course also considered how MAID fits into a broader cultural discourse that prizes choice and individuality and how Christians are called to minister in response.

One participant in the course said afterwards that the course “has changed my approach to MAID. Before, I avoided talking about it. Now I feel equipped to engage others in the kinds of issues raised in the course.” Another student said he was grateful for “the clear and distinct perspectives taken each night. These approaches to the subject really do need to be much more widely learned and discussed.”

Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) has been legal in Canada since 2016. While the course was underway, the federal government announced that it was delaying expanding the criteria for MAID to include mental health conditions. In 2022, Quebec had the highest rate of deaths via MAID, with MAID accounting for nearly 7% of all deaths.