However, the debate ended in the adoption of a resolution that supports the right of all physicians, within the bounds of existing legislation, to follow their conscience when deciding whether to provide medical aid in dying.
Dr Ewan Affleck, who presented the resolution on behalf of the CMA Board of Directors, said the resolution represents a modification of existing policy and recognises that unanimity on the issue of medical aid in dying within the profession is not going to be possible.
A straw vote of delegates taken at the meeting showed 70% felt the CMA should revise its existing policy on euthanasia and physician-assisted death, which opposes physician involvement in medical aid in dying.
In another vote, 78% felt universal access to palliative care services would not eliminate the need for euthanasia and physician-assisted death.
The results from a recent survey of almost 5,000 CMA members were also presented, showing that:
- 44.8% were in favour of legalising physician-assisted death
- 36.3% felt euthanasia should be legalised
- 26.7% would be likely or very likely to participate if physician-assisted death was legalised.