Join us for three Saturdays as we explore a range of legal and ethical issues relating to death, dying and the end of life. These issues include the extent of the public interest in private death, and how that interest relates to laws about death and dying; legal, medical, ethical and cultural definitions and understandings of death, along with the impact of differences among those definitions; the sometimes difficult legal and ethical questions about who has the right to make end-of-life or life-ending decisions, including the withdrawal of life-prolonging treatment, non-treatment and MAiD (medical assistance in dying). We will explore laws pertaining to the dead. Who makes decisions about the dead? On what basis? We will also consider the extent and ability of the law to assist people to plan for death. To what extent should the dead be enabled, through law, to control the affairs of the living—for example, through legal vehicles such as trusts? At what point do the wishes of the dead impinge on the interests of the living? How does the law mediate that conflict?
Throughout the course we will be examining and discussing several important Canadian judicial decisions that have grappled with difficult questions related to death and dying, including Carter v. Canada, R. v. Rodriguez, Cuthbertson v. Rasouli, Bentley v. Maplewood Seniors Care Society and A.C. v. Manitoba (Director of Child and Family Services). We will engage with these issues directly, using the legal and ethical principles discussed to work through hypothetical “fact patterns” from different professional, personal and philosophical perspectives.
This course will be of interest to health professionals, legal professionals, policy-makers, researchers, gerontologists, social workers, educators and anyone with an interest in the relationship between law and society, the philosophical and ethical issues underlying the law relating to death, dying and end of life, and broader end-of-life studies and issues.