End of LifeThu Jan 17, 2013 - 4:00 pm EST
The right to die is one of the 'greatest freedoms we can offer someone': National Post
TORONTO, January 17, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Assisted suicide in Canada is inevitable and embodies "one of the truest, and arguably greatest, freedoms we can offer someone," the National Post announced in its lead editorial on Wednesday.
The newspaper's editors drew heavily from an opinion piece by Mike Sholars in the NP's Full Comment section on Tuesday, January 15. He argued that the federal government should reconsider the ban on assisted suicide, because he believes assisted suicide is already happening in Canada clandestinely, and that the Supreme Court in British Columbia ruled in favour of physician-assisted death in the case of Gloria Taylor.
"The reality of this issue is that if someone wants to die on their own terms, the government is hard-pressed to stop them. Assisted deaths already occur, but everyone involved has the clandestine air of criminals," Sholars wrote.
"One of the truest, and arguably greatest, freedoms we can offer someone is the power to end their life on their own terms. If an individual is of sound enough mind and body to make the mature decision to call it a day, by what reasonable right can our government refuse them their last request?" he asked. "This is simply a matter of not making it a crime to end a spiral of suffering that cannot be reversed."
The NP editors tacked on that "an expert panel" in Quebec has endorsed legalization of "medically assisted euthanasia as an option for terminally ill patients" in order to bring Canada in line with "a new global perspective on options that should be afforded to people with degenerative diseases."
Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, pointed out that the NP editors are accepting the premise that the legislation will only apply in rare circumstances.
But Schadenberg told LifeSiteNews.com, "The definitions that are being proposed in Quebec mirror the definitions that are currently being used in Belgium. Recent studies have found that in the Flanders region of Belgium 32 percent of all euthanasia deaths were being done without explicit request, nurses are carrying out euthanasia, even though the law specifically prohibits nurses and up to 47 percent of all euthanasia deaths go unreported."
The NP editors offer the example of the Belgian twin brothers who were euthanized because they feared impending blindness, as a case in point that indicates Canada must "engage the debate [on euthanasia] head-on."
Schadenberg noted that the identical twin brothers, who were born deaf, died by euthanasia at the Belgium University Hospital in Jette, even though they were not sick, they were not yet blind, and they had lived a productive life together. They died by lethal injection despite their family's pleas not to go through with it.
"The problem with giving doctors the right to euthanize their patients is that it creates new social and personal pressure for people who could be otherwise supported by non-lethal means," Schadenberg said.
"What is occurring in Belgium is the logical extension of legalizing euthanasia," he told LifeSiteNews. "If it is acceptable to kill one group of people in society by euthanasia then it will soon become acceptable to kill other groups of people in society by euthanasia. The fact that the Quebec report includes the prospect of mental suffering as grounds for euthanasia could allow euthanasia for identical twins who are born deaf and who fear becoming blind."
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The NP editors also reiterate Sholars assertion that "For the first time in Canadian history, there are more people over the age of 65 than there are under the age of 15. As boomers continue to settle into retirement age, late-stage diseases will become a sad reality for a larger amount of the population. It’s time [to] truly examine the “right to die” debate, because it will only become more relevant over time."
"Statistically speaking, this debate will arrive on more doorsteps with each passing year. The questions are clear: Do Canadians deserve the opportunity to choose? Are cooperating physicians performing a valuable service, or committing a crime? The sick and suffering will not wait…and they grow in number by the day," the NP editors concluded.
Alex Schadenberg stated that euthanasia and assisted suicide must be opposed, "because our laws should not enable one person to intentionally kill another person and because it is not possible to effectively protect people from the potential abuses related to the act."
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