Consent and Conflict in Medico-Legal Decision-Making at the End of Life: A Critical Issue in the Canadian Context.
INTRODUCTION New technologies are, in many ways, making life more efficient and more productive. Ironically, these same technologies are making life more complex and precarious. In particular, medical technologies–in vitro fertilization, transplantation, stem-cell therapies, advanced life-support techniques–are proving to be a double-edged sword by increasing treatment options and expectations while simultaneously exciting ethical concerns about how they affect our humanity and personhood. Additionally, and importantly for this paper, we now face the ambiguous circumstance where advances in medical technology have extended our life-preserving capability (that is, our ability to maintain a functioning body), but have failed to increase, to the same extent, our healing capability (that is, our ability to restore functionality or cure the underlying debilitating condition).