MONTREAL, February 24, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – At its biennial policy convention in Montreal on the weekend, the Liberal Party of Canada endorsed almost unanimously the de-criminalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
The resolution calls for assisted death to be de-criminalized after a public consultation that would establish rules on accessing and monitoring the process of doctors killing their patients.
Liberal delegate Wendy Robins, who helped sponsor the resolution, said she believes the Belgian euthanasia model does not victimize the vulnerable.
“We share the concerns of the most vulnerable populations, especially people in the disability community,” said Robins, according to the National Post. “It covers health, it covers justice. We think we have the right to die with dignity.”
“We also have research that shows in Belgium the people that use (doctor assisted suicide) are white, privileged men,” Robins said, according to QMI Agency. “It's a question largely of autonomy.”
However, a Liberal delegate who condemned the policy resolution said that, from his perspective as an anesthesiologist, he found the proposal “horrifying.”
“We don't need euthanasia and suicide lists in Canadian facilities,” the doctor said, according to multiple media reports. “The more we focus on ending life, the less we focus on ending pain and suffering or the use of technologies to overcome disability and loss of function.”
Assisted suicide and euthanasia have become highly controversial topics in Canada in recent years. The Quebec legislature has been debating Bill 52, which would allow for “medical aid in dying.” In January, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal in Carter v. Canada after the appeals court upheld the nation’s ban on assisted suicide.
While Robbins sees no victimization of vulnerable people in Belgium, Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, paints a different picture. Schadenberg notes that Belgians are being euthanized without request or consent, and the categories of those eligible for doctor-assisted death are continually being expanded.
“A study in Belgium demonstrated that 32% of the people killed under the Belgian euthanasia law were killed without request, a breach of a fundamental condition of that law. Not one of these doctors has been prosecuted,” said Schadenberg.
Last week Belgium became the first country in the world to approve euthanasia for children who request it with parental consent.
Schadenberg explained that the main reason for expanding the criteria for euthanasia in Belgium is that doctors are breaking the law with impunity, so the law needs to be changed to catch up with what doctors are doing.
“Some call it a 'slippery slope' and others call it an 'incremental extension,' nonetheless, doctors appear to be breaking the law by killing, by euthanasia, children with disabilities, such as spina bifida,” Schadenberg said.
“Once euthanasia becomes an option, it will soon turn into the preferable option and finally it will turn into the choice of the few and the obligation for the many,” Schadenberg warned.
Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Health Minister Rona Ambrose have stated that the Conservative government will uphold the Criminal Code provisions prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia that are in place to protect all persons, including those who are most vulnerable in our society.
“The Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged the state interest in protecting human life and upheld the constitutionality of the existing legislation twenty years ago in the Rodriguez decision. Furthermore, in April 2010, a large majority of Parliamentarians voted not to change these laws, which is an expression of democratic will on this topic,” Paloma Aguilar, spokesperson for Justice Minister Peter MacKay, told LifeSiteNews.