February 19, 2016 (AlexSchadenberg) — Canadian Senator Denise Batters became a widow after her husband David Batters, a former Member of Parliament, died by suicide. Batters, who is a mental health advocate, is speaking out about her opposition to euthanasia for psychological suffering.
Senator Batters, who was interviewed by Kristy Kirkup for the Canadian Press, opposes euthanasia for psychological suffering based on her personal experience with suicide and as a mental health advocate. The Canadian Press reported:
Batters said she unfortunately has insight into how a suicidal mind works because her husband took his own life in 2009 after a battle with severe anxiety and depression.
“I have seen … the devastating impact, not only for the individual that goes through that pain themselves … but at the same time … I've seen the devastating consequences that it can have on the immediate family members,”
Batters recognizes the reality that assisted death has been imposed by the Supreme Court of Canada, but she also recognizes that Canadians want a tightly worded law.
“Canadians may support assisted suicide, but they want extremely strong safeguards and I think that when I talk to people about the possibility of psychological suffering being included as … sole grounds for having access to physician-assisted suicide, they are horrified and stunned that could be a possibility,”
“Unfortunately, my situation with my husband, did not have a good ending … however, that doesn't mean there aren't many, many thousands of people in this country who have lived through a period of severe anxiety and depression and come out the other side.”
Senator Batters also opposes the Liberal governments imposing a party line vote on Liberal MP's on this issue.
“I urge the Liberal caucus to think twice about that and give their members of Parliament the opportunity to vote with their conscience.”
Senator Batter is a lawyer who worked as the chief of staff for Saskatchwan's Minister of Justice (2007 – 2012) became a mental health advocate to help others.
“It really helps me to know that I might be helping somebody by something I'm saying and if I can prevent somebody else from being in the situation I'm in, basically an unwilling family survivor of suicide.”
Euthanasia for psychiatric reasons, including depression, is being debated in Canada. A recent study determined that euthanasia for psychiatric reasons, in the Netherlands, is not being tightly controlled.
Reprinted with permission from Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.