In many countries, assisted dying practices have either been decriminalized, legalized, or the issues are being debated in the legislatures. Palliative care workers may be confronted with, and directly impacted by, these issues.
Many of you may be familiar with the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care Position Statement adopted by the IAHPC in 2017, which states: "IAHPC believes that no country or state should consider legalizing euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide until it ensures universal access to both palliative care services and appropriate medications, including opioids for the management of pain and dyspnea."1
We continue to uphold this position. This position is solidified by the findings published in the ebook authors by one of IAHPC's founders, Dr. Roger Woodruff, Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide: Are they clinically necessary or desirable?2 Palliative care should be always available as the first line of care for patients experiencing serious health-related suffering. However, there are reports from Canada where that medical assistance in dying, or MAiD, is now being offered as one option of “care” from which patients “choose.”3
Because of this kind of development, assisted dying practices and new laws and regulations in several countries may have an impact on patients, caregivers, health care providers, and their relationships. In 2022, the IAHPC prepared and distributed a survey to its members. The survey's objective was to assess the legal status of assisted dying practices in their countries, identify their opinions and attitudes, and learn if they are being affected by these practices.
This special issue of the IAHPC Newsletter reports the survey findings and includes contributions from a cohort of experts in the field of palliative care, most of whom are IAHPC members. We are very grateful to all the members who participated, and all the contributors who responded to our invitation to comment.
We plan to conduct a larger, broader survey before the end of the year, involving all contacts in our database and beyond the IAHPC membership. If you work in palliative care or a related field and want to add your voice, you can be included in the survey by subscribing to our special announcements or the monthly newsletter.
Lukas Radbruch, IAHPC Chair of the Board
Tania Pastrana, IAHPC Research and Academic Advisor
Liliana De Lima, IAHPC Executive Director