Stop the madness

By 
  • March 3, 2016

Six years ago, 89-year-old Kay Carter, a terminally ill Vancouver woman, circumvented Canadian law by purchasing a doctor-assisted suicide in Switzerland. Her death prompted a 2011 lawsuit that sought access to assisted suicide for other Canadians who were suffering and near death.

Five years after that court action, intended to open a small window for terminal patients who had an amenable doctor, we now have a grim report tabled Feb. 25 by a parliamentary committee. The report is cheerily titled “Medical Assistance in Dying: A patient-centred approach.” A more apt title for this chilling document would be “Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Killing the patient.”

The report’s 21 recommendations go far beyond what Carter’s supporters sought, beyond what Quebec’s new euthanasia law allows and beyond what the Supreme Court ruled. Far from patientcentred, the report casually rejects society’s fundamental obligation to provide care for the sick, lonely, depressed, elderly and dying.

Among its recommendations, the report suggests assisted suicide and euthanasia become an option for non-terminal patients, including older children, the chronically depressed and the mentally ill who meet a vague criteria of having a “grievous and irremediable medical condition.” Rather than proposing comfort and support for all people contemplating suicide due to poverty, loneliness, infirmity, physical handicap or general unhappiness, the report proposes that hospitals maintain mandatory killing wards.

Further, it dismisses the Charter rights of freedom of conscience and religion. It recommends that doctors who oppose killing patients be forced to send them to someone else to be killed, and that all publicly funded health facilities, including Catholic institutions, be forced to provide lethal services. That far exceeds the Court’s directives.

Canada is hurtling towards some form of statesanctioned killing, but surely reasonable Canadians will oppose this report and urge MPs to never let it become law. Bad enough to sanction killing of the terminally ill, but a law that fails to explicitly protect children, the clinically depressed or the disabled, that ignores conscience rights of health workers and forces Catholic doctors in Catholic hospitals to kill patients? How is that even imaginable?

The 2011 lawsuit that opened this black hole was filed so that some patients could ask to receive an assisted suicide from a consenting doctor. Now we have a parliamentary committee that wants to compel reluctant doctors and institutions to facilitate lethal injections for a wide range of consenting patients. What began as a campaign for assisted suicide in narrowly defined circumstances is being recklessly contorted into a broad right for people of all ages and circumstance to not only demand to be killed but to force doctors and hospitals, despite any objections, to accommodate this killing.

It’s madness and it must never come to pass.

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