Commentary by Alex Schadenberg, Director Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
OTTAWA, April 14, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Last month during an interview on the CBC radio show Cross Country Checkup Jocelyn Downie, the Canada research chair in Health, Law and Policy from Dalhousie University stated that she knew that new legislation was being drafted to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. Downie also stated that a new test case had been drafted to challenge the criminal code prohibitions of euthanasia via the courts.
On April 13, 2008, Canada Press published an interview with Francine Lalonde, the Bloc Quebecois MP who had introduced bill C-407 in 2005, a bill that would have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. Lalonde stated that she intends to introduce new legislation to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide soon.
Lalonde, who has been battling cancer for the past 2 years is “pushing ahead with plans to force the House of Commons to relaunch the debate on assisted suicide.”
Bill C-407 would have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide for people suffering chronic physical and mental pain. Chronic physical and mental pain can be effectively treated.
Bill C-407 did not require that a person at least attempt effective treatment for their chronic physical or mental pain. The bill stated that a person qualifies for euthanasia even if they have refused to try effective treatments.
Bill C-407 did not limit euthanasia to competent people. Bill C-407 legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide for people who “appear to be lucid”. What did it mean to appear to be lucid?
Bill C-407 did not limit euthanasia to physicians alone. Bill C-407 allowed anyone to carry-out euthanasia or assist a suicide of anyone, as long as they are “assisted by a medical practitioner”, and act in the manner indicated by the person who wishes to die.
Bill C-407 did not even provide the typical “safeguards” that we have seen in other jurisdictions where euthanasia and assisted suicide have been proposed.
Even if Lalonde tightens up the wording in her new proposal, we already know her intentions based on the wording of Bill C-407.
Lalonde stated to Canada Press that: “I am not worried about abuse, I am worried, however, about what is going on in Quebec. People are suffering and can’t find help and they are putting moral pressure on people they know to help them die. I find that a slippery slope.”
Whereas the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is equally concerned about people who are suffering and can’t find help, we recognize that this is more related to our failure to effectively provide good end of life care rather than our need to legalize the killing of the vulnerable.
Bill C-407 allowed a person a kill another person. Once society allows one person to kill another it becomes impossible to protect those who are made to feel like a burden upon society. Bill C-407 directly threatened the lives of people with disabilities and other vulnerable Canadians. People who need to be treated with equality and dignity and who often need to be protected by society.