Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) while incarcerated vs Compassionate Release: a comprehensive analysis of “Dying with Dignity” within the Canadian correctional system

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Date
2024-03-25
Authors
Ranieri, Marisa
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Abstract
The principle of equivalence of care asserts that incarcerated individuals have access to the same level of healthcare as the general population. Carceral institutions have been notably criticized for having substantially fewer resources available and overall poor access to healthcare services. Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) is a medical process that assists eligible individuals who are seeking to end their lives. To be eligible, one must be eligible for health services funded by provincial, territorial, or federal healthcare services, be 18 years old and mentally competent for making health decisions for one’s self and have a grievous and irremediable medical condition such as a disease, illness and disability and be in an advance state of decline that cannot be reversed which has resulted in unbearable pain, and mental suffering. The right to choose how and when to end one's life falls under the purview of the right to private life. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of a person. Article 12(1) of the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) states that the state parties to the Covenant recognize everyone's right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Article 12(2), which ensures that state parties enable citizens to exercise this right while holding each binding state accountable to have the adequate means to exercise this right to its fullest potential, and specifically Article 12(2)(d), which recognizes the need for states to create conditions for sustaining medical services and medical attention in the event of sickness for all individuals, regardless of status in society. MAiD within Canadian carceral settings, however, presents difficulties because an inmate, by definition, is an individual who is denied their fundamental human rights. Using the foundation of these fundamental human rights, this report will argue for the use of Compassionate Release for terminally/dying inmates to allow these individuals to exercise their right to die with dignity and obtain the highest standard of healthcare during their last days.
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Healthcare, Incarceration, Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)
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