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Woman who campaigned for liberalizing Canada’s ‘medical assistance in dying’ laws euthanized

James Risdon James Risdon

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, November 1, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) - Audrey Parker is dead.

The 57-year-old cancer patient and pro-euthanasia advocate chose to end her life prematurely at about 2 p.m. Thursday as part of a campaign to loosen up Canada's "medical assistance in dying" legislation.

In Canada, anyone seeking to end his or her life under the euthanasia law has to be lucid enough to give informed consent immediately before the lethal drugs are administered. It is unclear whether Parker committed suicide by her own hand or whether she had doctors give her a lethal injection, but the latter is typically how euthanasia is committed under Canada’s new law allowing it.

Dying with Dignity Canada, a pro-euthanasia organization, wants to change the law so that euthanasia recipients are not required to give informed consent right before their deadly shot, but can do so in advance and still be killed when they become mentally incompetent.

"In the coming weeks, we will be launching a campaign in Audrey’s honour to ensure that the rights of people who’ve been assessed and approved for assisted dying are respected," said Dying with Dignity Canada spokesman Cory Ruf on Thursday.

"We don’t know exactly what shape that’ll take just yet – the situation is all very fluid – but it will involve asking our decision-makers [to] ensure that our laws for assisted dying comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," he said.

Ruf denied that the organization already has a bill to be called Audrey's Law set to be introduced to the House of Commons next week, as suggested by Parker herself on Facebook Thursday and reported by other news outlets.

"That statement on Audrey’s Facebook page was inaccurate," said Ruf. "We’re not presenting any sort of bill at this point."

Under the kind of change Parker wanted to see in Canada's euthanasia law, people would be given the right to state ahead of time that they want medical assistance in dying. That request would then be honored even if those people become mentally incompetent before their death and change their minds.  

Pro-lifers fear any such loosening of Canada's euthanasia laws would only lead to people being killed who have changed their minds about dying since making their initial euthanasia request.

In other jurisdictions where such advance consent for euthanasia is already legal, in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, advance requests for euthanasia have led to heart-wrenching results.

"There's a case in the Netherlands of a woman who said she wanted euthanasia. She had Alzheimer's and she changed her mind," said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the pro-life Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, in an interview Thursday.

The woman woke up after being given medication to make her sleepy and started to resist the doctor's efforts to kill her by lethal injection.

"The doctor secretly placed a soporific in her coffee to calm her, and then had started to give her a lethal injection. Yet while injecting the woman she woke up, and fought the doctor," the Daily Mail reported in January last year. "The paperwork showed that the only way the doctor could complete the injection was by getting family members to help restrain her."

When a patient becomes mentally incompetent prior to a scheduled medically-assisted death, it can become impossible to tell if he or she has had a change of heart and now wants to live, said the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

"The problem with the concept of euthanasia for incompetent people who previously requested it is that people will add a euthanasia clause to their advanced directive when they are in fear of the future," Schadenberg wrote on the pro-life organization's website Thursday. "When they are actually in that situation, they are legally unable to change their mind."

This, though, is precisely what Parker championed in her last post on Facebook Thursday morning, only hours before her death.

"For those already assessed and approved for MAID, they should receive the opportunity to figure out when the right time to die is upon them," wrote Parker. "They will figure it out as they live out as many days as possible. Once they are at the end of the line, they will reach out to their MAID provider and together, they will figure out the best time to invoke MAID."

"This is exactly how I should be able to deal with my death but this is not the case. I’m willing to leave early if it will result in this change for those who come after me," she wrote.

On social media, hundreds of people expressed warm wishes for the woman who has fought to further liberalize Canada's euthanasia laws, many calling her a wonderful person.

"You are truly an inspiration, Audrey," wrote Shannon Picard. "Thank you for sharing your life, your journey. You are brave and beautiful. Travel well."

Others, though, begged her to reconsider ending her life, alluding to the sanctity of life.

"It is still not too late to call it off," wrote Dena Churchill on Parker's Facebook page early Thursday. "You sound very coherent and high brain functioning to me. Don't be afraid to push our human boundaries, you are always in God's hands! The purpose and will to live and leave a legacy guides the process. If your work is not finished, then you must stay."

Still others warned Parker of the danger in which she was placing her soul by committing suicide. Larry Winters was one of those who warned her of the spiritual consequences of suicide, medically-assisted or not.

"If you allow yourself to kill yourself, you will not go to heaven," wrote Winters. "One of God's commandments (is) ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ (That) means either you or someone else. You will spend eternity in hell forever and ever, separated from God and have more consequences and problems than you have now."

Janice Jewell echoed those sentiments.

"If you are not sure of where you are going when you die, don’t do it," wrote Jewell.  "Do you have a relationship with Jesus? Have you accepted him as Savior. Your last breath on earth will put you in the presence of God and He will judge you for eternity. If you don’t know Him here, you won’t be with him in His eternal Glory."

"Hell is eternal death," she wrote. "I’m not trying to be mean. I care about you even though we have never met. Please don’t kill yourself. Please talk to a priest or a pastor."

On November 1, 2014 – four years ago today – American Brittany Maynard killed herself after campaigning for assisted suicide. She had an aggressive form of brain cancer. Her death galvanized the assisted suicide/euthanasia movement in the U.S., where since her death several jurisdictions have legalized the practice.

RELATED:

Doctors propose killing sick children under Canada’s new euthanasia law

President of international pro-euthanasia org charged with murder

Canada, Netherlands hope to mainstream euthanasia with appeals to World Medical Assn

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