A bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide by lethal prescription was introduced to the Canadian Senate earlier this week as a private members bill.
Sens. Nancy Ruth and Larry Campbell’s Bill S-225, if successful, would amend the Criminal Code to allow physicians to administer death to a wide-array of patients requesting it. Those eligible would include anyone over the age of 18 who has an “illness, a disease or disability…that causes the person physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to that person and that cannot be alleviated by any medial treatment acceptable to that person.”
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, called the bill “intentionally permissive.” He said the criteria set forth in the bill in which a patient can ask to be killed by his or her doctor are “completely subjective.” If this bill were to become law, he told LifeSiteNews, it would allow numerous Canadians, including those with disabilities or suffering depression, to request death.
He also criticized the bill for aiming at not protecting patients, but rather protecting doctors who kill their patients. “There is nothing in this bill that would protect a vulnerable person,” he said.
The language of the bill largely reflects a private members bill put forward by Conservative MP Stephen Fletcher months ago that had no likelihood of reaching a vote in the House. Fletcher was left a quadriplegic from a car accident in 1996.
If Bill S-225 were to pass in the Senate, it would receive priority in the House. But with an election looming in less than a year, Schadenberg thinks it unlikely that the bill will go far.
“There’s no way it has a chance to get passed before the next election,” he said. “But, nonetheless, they are trying to create the debate.”
In response to Fletcher’s bill, the Conservative government stated in March that it had no interest in opening the euthanasia debate. That sentiment was prevalent throughout the House in April 2010 when MPs overwhelmingly defeated Bill C-384, a private members bill seeking to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, by a vote of 228-59.
Schadenberg said that instead of being a boon for the euthanasia lobby, the bill, with its “subjective” language, shows “just how bad euthanasia and assisted-suicide bills can be.”
He pointed to instances in the Netherlands where euthanasia laws have become wide enough to practically include anyone who seeks to die. Numerous instances include a healthy woman who successfully requested to die by lethal injection due to “suffering unbearably” as a result of blindness, as well as a physically healthy man who successfully requested death by lethal injection due to depression.
Sen. Ruth is a member of the Senate’s Conservative caucus and Sen. Campbell is a member of the Liberal caucus. Both were appointed on the advice of Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin.