Royal Society of Canada's assisted suicide report disputed

  • November 23, 2011

OTTAWA - Opponents of euthanasia have slammed a Royal Society of Canada expert panel report advocating decriminalization of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.

Margaret Somerville, founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, called the “End-of-Life Decision Making” report “a “pro-euthanasia manifesto” and “thinly veiled euthanasia and assisted suicide propaganda.”

The report, released Nov. 15, failed its mandate to provide a balanced review of arguments pro and con, Somerville said, adding five of the six authors are well-known euthanasia advocates.

The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) called the report “symptomatic of an ideology of death.”

“In this report personal autonomy and self-determination are extolled at the expense of the common good and it is argued that the ‘prophesied undesirable social consequences are not sufficient to negate the right to choose assisted suicide and voluntary
euthanasia,’ ” COLF said in a Nov. 20 news release.

While the Royal Society panel recommends the development of palliative care, COLF says including liberal access to euthanasia and assisted suicide is “absolutely incompatible with the principles and goals of palliative care.”

The panel asserts “public support for the decriminalization of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia remains high (a substantial majority of Canadians support the decriminalization of assisted dying).” But Life Canada, a national pro-life educational organization, disputed that level of support.

“Our September 2011 Environics poll asked 2,000 individual Canadians what they thought about euthanasia and the results are not reflected in the (Royal Society) report,” said a Nov. 16 Life Canada news release. “The survey found that people want improved palliative care for the dying, but have real misgivings about legalizing euthanasia due to the impact on the elderly and most vulnerable.”

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