Dr. Macdonald Publishes in Expert Panel on Medical Assistance in Dying for Mature Minors
Faculty of Dentistry professor and researcher Dr. Mary Ellen Macdonald was invited by
the Council of Canadian Academies to be part of an independent expert panel working group on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) for Mature Minors. Considered the ‘best minds’ in their respective fields, CCA panel experts help inform policy decisions regarding public health.
The CCA was asked to examine three particularly complex types of requests for MAID that were identified for further review and study in the legislation passed by Parliament in 2016: requests by mature minors, advance requests, and requests where a mental disorder is the sole underlying medical condition. Dr. Macdonald was one of many Canadian researchers and scholars invited to produce a report on the state of knowledge on MAID in relation to mature minors, specifically. Not defined by chronological age, mature minors are instead defined by their capacity for decision-making. The report asks, “In Canada, people under the age of 18 are not eligible for MAID, which raises the following question: Since an adult who suffers intolerably from a grievous and irremediable medical condition, and who is in a state of irreversible, advanced decline, can request and receive MAID, is there a reason to exclude a minor with the same grievous and irremediable medical condition from accessing MAID?”
The Expert Panel’s final reports reflect a broad range of knowledge, experience, and perspective from healthcare professions, diverse academic disciplines, advocacy groups, and jurisdictions where MAID is permitted. They gathered and interpreted, with the sensitivity required of the subject, the available evidence, and explored the societal, clinical, legal, and practical implications and issues associated with both permitting and prohibiting MAID in the three topic areas.
As an anthropologist with postdoctoral training in Pediatric Palliative Care and Chair of the McGill Qualitative Health Research Group, Dr. Macdonald lent her expertise in the report and continues to demonstrate the value of interdisciplinary research in the health sciences.