As you might have noticed, last week the Royal Society of Canada released (to much media interest in Canada and internationally) a Report drafted by an international expert panel on End-of-Life Decision-Making in the country. I chaired the panel. It was comprised of well-known figures in bioethics and health law, namely Jocelyn Downie, Hans van Delden, SheilaMcLean, Ross Upshur and Daniel Weinstock. Check the report out here or here.
As is inevitable with such a report, some of its recommendations are taken to be controversial by some people. It was no surprise to me that many of our recommendations on the provision of palliative care in the country, advance planning and other such pressing matters were ignored by the media, and instead the focus was on our recommendations on the decriminalization of certain kinds of assisted dying. The usual suspects came out of their woodwork in no time, the expected condemnations of church affiliated academics, and activist groups were so quick that it is unlikely the people in question actually had the time to read our document. My favourite was a medical school professor who condemned the report in its entirety, even though we actually cited his work approvingly. It seems it is not just philosophers shooting from the hip, as James Rachels worried in his classic article on this issue, but medical school professors, too.
So much has been said in the media, most of which was in fact positive and supportive of our conclusions, that it is impossible for me to respond to everything. However, I am determined to respond to two vile pieces of agitprop that were published in a National Post blog entry penned by Barbara Kay, as well as in a piece published by Licia Corbella in the Calgary Herald.
I intend to write a detailed response to these two pieces some time this coming week, but in the meantime, here's my Competition idea: I invite readers of this blog to analyse these two pieces of what might mistakenly be described as journalism by some and point out their mistakes and misleading arguments. Whoever finds the most mistakes and misleading arguments will receive a free hard cover copy of '50 Voices of Disbelief - Why We Are Atheists', signed by me or 'clean', whatever you prefer. The deadline for submissions will be Wednesday November 30, 2011, 5pm EST. Feel free to send your comments to me at udo schuklenk.