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OTTAWA, February 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The federal committee for euthanasia and assisted suicide has released recommendations that, if adopted, will allow “wide-open euthanasia” and “wide-open abuse” of vulnerable Canadians, says executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
“We haven’t seen what the bill’s going to say,” Alex Schadenberg told LifeSiteNews, “but we see the recommendations, and basically it’s a wide-open model with very little clear defining controls.”
“It’s a near-worst case scenario.”
The all-party committee of 11 MPs and five senators was tasked with providing a framework for a new law after the Supreme Court struck down the existing Criminal Code prohibition against assisted suicide and euthanasia in February 2015, a ruling that takes effect June 6.
After hearing from 61 witnesses and reviewing over 100 written briefs, the committee released 21 recommendations on February 25 to regulate what it calls “MAID” — medical assistance in dying.
But four of the committee’s MPs, Conservatives Mark Warawa, Michael Cooper, Gerard Deltell, and Harold Albrecht, opposed the recommendations, stating in a dissenting report that there needs to be better safeguards for vulnerable people.
And Schadenberg also denounced the committee’s report as “very bad.”
The committee effectively ignored conscience rights by recommending that publicly funded healthcare institutions be mandated to provide euthanasia and assisted suicide, and that objecting doctors must “at minimum” provide their patients with an “effective referral.” (See story here.)
It also recommends that nurses and nurse practitioners, as well as doctors, be called upon to euthanize their patients, or assist them in committing suicide.
But the report also suggests that children, or “mature minors,” be eligible for euthanasia in the second of a recommended two-stage legislative rollout over two to three years.
“The crazy thing about that is, how do you define a ‘mature minor’?” Schadenberg asked. “It’s based on the doctor assessing you, and say, ‘oh, so and so’s mature’.”
He excoriated the committee’s recommendation that mental illness, including treatable depression, could be the sole determinant for eligibility for euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Recommendation 4 notes that “physical or psychological suffering that is enduring and intolerable to the person in the circumstances of his or her condition should be recognized as a criterion to access medical assistance in dying.”
“This is mental suffering alone, and you cannot define psychological suffering,” he noted.
And there’s no effective oversight of doctors under the committee’s proposed scheme, Schadenberg pointed out.
The report recommends “exactly the same system as in Belgium and the Netherlands, that is, two doctors decide, and then after the two doctors decide, one of them kills you, and after you’re dead, the doctor sends in the report.”
“There is no third-party oversight, none,” Schadenberg stressed, adding that the only person who can report that something went wrong “is dead.”
He also criticized the committee’s recommendations for advance directives, which he described as “fairly wide open,” and of particular risk to patients diagnosed with such conditions as dementia or Alzheimer’s and who are extremely fearful of the future.
The report recommends two conditions be met in order for an advance directive for euthanasia or assisted suicide to be valid: “You must know what you have, and you must make the decision in your advance directive when you’re still competent.”
And when a patient has been deemed incompetent — and that is “legally,” not physically incompetent, Schadenberg noted — “you can’t change your mind, and your family can’t protect you.”
The EPC is not against advance directives on principle, but that they can be abused, he said. “You need to have an advance directive that clearly defines the question.”
Schadenberg also pointed out that “one of the greatest problems with the Supreme Court decision was the lack of definition” of the terms.
But while the committee sets forth a number of definitions, it concludes that a new law need not define the terms related to “medical assistance in dying.”
It recommended that assisted suicide or euthanasia “be available to individuals with terminal and non-terminal grievous and irremediable medical conditions that cause enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”
Schadenberg also decried the committee’s recommendation that doctors opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide must give patients an “effective” referral, and that publicly funded healthcare institutions must provide euthanasia and assisted suicide.
“It’s all pretty bad. It’s basically forcing this upon Canada,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“There’s no free will. This is not about choice, autonomy. This is about imposing death, ‘assisted death’ as they call, it upon Canadians.”
See LifeSiteNews' other coverage on the government panel report: