Canadian Medical Association may take ‘neutral position’ on legalized assisted suicide
CALGARY, Alberta, August 8, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As the Quebec government and one British Columbian court push to change Canadian law on euthanasia and assisted suicide, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has announced plans to discuss “physician-assisted dying” at its upcoming annual meeting to "foster a public debate on end-of-life care issues in Canada."
While two recent survey show that very few Canadian doctors are willing to kill a patient by euthanasia if requested, a leading anti-euthanasia activist is hoping that the CMA will not take a “neutral position” on the issue.
“Taking a neutral position doesn’t help anybody,” Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told LifeSiteNews.com.
“Neutrality is not an acceptable position to protect the ethics of physicians,” he said, adding that neutrality will not “protect doctors who know that this is the wrong way to go.”
The CMA’s annual General Council, set to take place in Calgary’s Telus Convention Centre August 19-21, has been called the “parliament of Canadian medicine” because of its decision making authority. The 250-plus member General Council is organized to allow delegates to put forward motions that form the basis for forthcoming policies.
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Of the three “strategic sessions” planned at the conference, the one dealing with “end-of-life care issues related to palliative care, advance care planning and physician-assisted dying” will have its own “expert panel” to give special input. The CMA told LifeSiteNews.com that the names of the expert panel could not be released at this time since “there are a lot of logistics associated with securing speakers, so it’s hard to confirm everyone.” The names of the expert panel are expected to be released on Friday August 16.
CMA’s existing policy on the issue, last updated in 2007, states that "Canadian physicians should not participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide”.
While Canada’s criminal code prohibits euthanasia and assisted suicide, liberal governments, courts, and mainstream media are doing their best to sway public opinion to accept state-sanctioned death by the hand of a qualified doctors.
Quebec introduced a bill earlier this summer that would legalize euthanasia throughout the province as “medical aid in dying”.
Last year, Justice Lynn Smith struck down the prohibition against assisted suicide in the B.C. Carter case, arguing that since suicide is technically legal in Canada, the ban on assisted suicide is “unconstitutional.” The law, the justice ruled, prevents the disabled from getting the help they may need to kill themselves.
The decision was appealed by the Conservative government and is still winding its way through the courts.
Mainstream media have capitalized on empathetic stories of people wanting to kill themselves to push for societal change on the issue. These include the story of Margot Bentley, who made a “living will” that she be “euthanized” when her condition “deteriorated,” and Susan Griffiths, who traveled to the Dignitas suicide “clinic” in Zurich to kill herself.
Despite the leftist push for a socially accepted form of legalized killing of the aged and infirm, a recent Environics poll found that overall Canadian support for legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia is waning when compared to similar polls from other years. At the same time, the number of those who “strongly oppose” the legalization of both practices has risen significantly.
Pointing to a study in Belgium that showed that 32 percent of euthanasia deaths were being carried out without patient request, Schadenberg said: “Euthanasia can never in the end be a safe idea.”
Schadenberg said that if Canadian law changes on the issue, then the CMA “has to clearly understand that the issue is about doctors taking the lives of their patients,” something he said doctors “should never be involved with.”
“Doctors should not be entering the room of a patient with the patient wondering: ‘Is my doctor going to kill me or is my doctor going to care for me?’” he said. “That situation shouldn’t ever be.”