Settlement in Dispute on Academic Freedom and Assisted Suicide

March 27, 2009

Russel Ogden will be able to resume his research on assisted suicide, according to a settlement announced by the Canadian Association of University Teachers. Ogden, a sociologist at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, has written about assisted suicides and observed many of them. An ethics review board at his university had approved the research, but Kwantlen ordered him to stop any studies that involved observing suicides. While suicide is not illegal in Canada, assisting a suicide is illegal, and the university has equated Ogden's proposal to observe assisted suicides with assisting suicides himself. Many professors in Canada backed him, arguing that observing something is not the same as endorsing or participating in it -- and noting that many sociology studies involve observing illegal activities. The Canadian Association of University Teachers set up a committee to study the matter last year. The association's announcement of a settlement in the case said that Ogden is now permitted to engage in the research approved by the university's ethics review board.

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