Introducing Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada: Lessons on Pragmatic Ethics and the Implementation of a Morally Contested Practice
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Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in Canada has had a tumultuous social and legal history. In the 6 years since assisted dying was decriminalized by the Canadian Parliament in June 2016, the introduction of this practice into the Canadian healthcare system has been fraught with ethical challenges, practical hurdles and grass-roots innovation. In 2021, MAiD accounted for approximately 3.3% of all Canadian deaths annually, and more patients are seeking MAiD year over year as this option becomes more widely know. Unfortunately, some patients who want MAiD are unable to access it in a timely manner because of a lack of willing MAiD providers. This introduction describes statistics about the uptake of MAiD in Canada and the challenges presented by Canadians' rapid acceptance of this end of life care option. In this special edition of HEC Forum about the implementation of MAiD in Canada, authors depict a range of ethical challenges and strategies to address issues related to MAiD access and quality, organizational engagement, clinician recruitment and retention, and support for a morally diverse workforce. In each article, the authors reflect on the question: What are the practical ethics involved in introducing assisted dying into a new healthcare context, and how can ethicists and ethics resources collaborate with stakeholders to ensure the integration of ethical considerations as this practice continues to evolve?