Conservative MP to propose assisted suicide bills, not expected to reach vote
OTTAWA, March 26, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Conservative MP intends to introduce two private member's bills to legalize doctor-assisted death in an attempt to reopen the debate on assisted suicide and euthanasia in Parliament.
Stephen Fletcher, a Manitoba MP and former Conservative cabinet minister who was left a quadriplegic from a car accident in 1996, told the media that although he will not disclose the details of his bills until they are tabled, one of the bills focuses on the actual legislation to allow doctors to kill their patients, while the other proposes that a commission be set up to monitor the implementation of the legislation.
"There will be a set of statutory requirements that must be met before the act of physician-assisted death can happen," Fletcher said today according to CBC.
"The commission will be taking a very close look at each case as it occurs and provide recommendations over time on how to best improve the process."
Fletcher told La Presse, "I feel morally obliged, now that I have the opportunity to present these two bills and create a parliamentary debate and awareness across the country so that people feel that the choice is theirs."
He added that his proposed legislation would allow provinces to adopt their own system of medical aid in dying without fear of legal challenges from Ottawa under the Constitution and Criminal Code.
The Quebec government's attempt to legalize euthanasia in the province by calling it "medical aid in dying" was derailed by the election called earlier this month.
However, the Harper government told Quebec that a legal challenge would be forthcoming if Quebec tried to bring doctor-assisted death in through the back door by calling it health care.
In response to news of Fletcher’s bills, Justice Minister Peter MacKay reiterated that the government has no interest in starting the euthanasia debate again.
"I think it's a very, very personal issue, a very contentious issue one that Parliament examined in the not-too-distant past and spoke quite clearly, pronounced itself on it, so I'm not in any hurry to reopen that issue," he said.
While Fletcher said, according to the CBC, that he doesn't buy the "slippery slope" argument that legalizing assisted suicide leads to abuses, especially of vulnerable people, Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition told LifeSiteNews, "In Belgium, where euthanasia was legalized in 2002, studies show that as many as 32% of all the assisted deaths are done without request and many of those euthanasia deaths are not reported.”
"In January, Belgian euthanasia doctor, Marc Cosyns admitted that he never reports his euthanasia deaths, even though it is a requirement of the euthanasia law," Schadenberg said, noting in addition that Belgium recently extended euthanasia to children.
Schadenberg pointed out that Fletcher's bills have little chance of success, but his intention is to reopen the debate.
"Based on the order of precedence, Mr. Fletcher's euthanasia bills will not have time to be voted-on in Parliament. Mr. Fletcher is obviously seeking to create a debate on the issues in Canada," Schadenberg said.
"The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is happy to participate in an open and forthright debate that includes all information and facts about euthanasia and assisted suicide. The polling we have done indicates that the more facts Canadians have about euthanasia and assisted suicide, the more Canadians will oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide," Schadenberg stated, stressing the fact that "legalizing euthanasia and/or assisted suicide is lethal and not safe."
According to media reports, MP Fletcher will introduce his bills on Thursday.