Suicide of 91 year-old woman proves Canadian suicide law does not need to be changed, says expert
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, February 15, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) –The bid to change Canada’s assisted suicide laws by a 91 year-old Vancouver woman who committed suicide demonstrates that the current laws should not be changed, according to one expert.
“Ruth Goodman committed suicide,” Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told LifeSiteNews.com. “She did it on her own and within the law. Since she was not aided, encouraged or counseled to commit suicide, therefore the law has not been broken. There is no reason to change the law.”
According to media reports Goodman, who took her life on February 2 in her home, was not terminally ill, was allegedly healthy and happy, had just renewed her driver’s license in December, went to the library to read, was not depressed, and thought clearly.
Ruth Goodman had her son submit her suicide note to a national newspaper, which contained an explanation for her motive.
“I am a 91-year-old woman who has decided to end my life in the very near future. I do not have a terminal illness; I am simply old, tired and becoming dependent, after a wonderful life of independence,” she wrote. “By the time people read this, I will have died. I am writing this letter to advocate for a change in the law, so that all will be able to make this choice.”
Goodman reportedly ended her life with a lethal dose of a barbiturate that she had obtained in South America. She died alone.
Schadenberg pointed out that Goodman, far from being a champion of choice, was rather a “victim of a society that does not value its elders.”
“People usually do not commit suicide unless they feel abandoned and devalued by those who are closest to them,” he said. “Suicide is never a healthy response to any of life’s circumstances. People commit suicide when they have lost hope, when they have lost a sense of purpose, and especially when they experience rejection by those around them who ought to love and care for them.”
Schadenberg said that the sensationalism of Goodman’s death should not detract from the facts of what really happened.
“Goodman died without requiring someone else to assist her suicide or actually lethally inject her,” he stated.
“The death of Ruth Goodman did not require a change in the law. What her case indicates more than anything is that there is no need to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide in Canada,” he said.
Goodmen’s death comes at a time when Canadian courts have seen a spike in cases of people wanting medical assistance to kill themselves.
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There was the Carter case launched in 2011, where the BC Civil Liberties Association claimed that Canada’s provisions against euthanasia and assisted suicide were unconstitutional since they violated one’s “right” to die. The Court ruled at that time that Canada’s ban on assisted suicide was unconstitutional. That ruling was appealed by the Canadian government last July.
There was also the case of the Quebec woman Ginette Leblanc who launched a challenge against Canada's ban on assisted-suicide in October. Her case was closed after she passed away from natural causes the same day that Goodman committed suicide. Gloria Taylor, who was the main plaintiff in the Carter case in British Columbia also died of natural causes last October.
Schadenberg pointed out that the deaths of Goodman, Leblanc and Taylor all happened within the context of the current law, making it clear that there is no need to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide in Canada.
Despite a number of people seeking to change Canadian law and sway public opinion on assisted suicide, only 16 percent of Canadian doctors say they would euthanize their patient if it were legal.