Sign sends a message at rally against assisted suicide in 2016 on Parliament Hill. CNS photo/Art Babych

MAiD opponents vow to continue euthanasia fight after passing of Bill C-7

  • March 25, 2021

OTTAWA -- Opponents may have lost another battle in the fight against medical assistance in dying (MAiD) but they are promising to fight on.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has vowed to keep the debate alive despite the Senate on March 17 passing Bill C-7, just days after the law passed in the House of Commons. The bill has expanded access to a medically-assisted death, including to the mentally ill, though that won’t be enshrined in the law for two years to allow a review to establish protocols and safeguards.

“As terrible as Bill C-7 was, there is a two-year moratorium on the euthanasia for mental illness clause, giving the government time to establish protocols,” said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the coalition, adding he hopes this time will allow “an opportunity for us and our coalition partners to change the direction of the debate and enable a full examination of the law.”

“While the battle was lost, the war is not over,” said Nicole Scheidl of Canadian Physicians for Life.

She said the passing of C-7 has been hard to take, but pro-life physicians have “done an absolutely amazing job” in creating a conversation around MAiD. Scheidl said her organization will now turn its attention to protecting the conscience rights of physicians who wish to remain true to the Hippocratic tradition of not doing harm.

Schadenberg said the whole process — from introducing MAiD in 2016 to opening the door for the mentally ill to legally commit suicide — is proof that once euthanasia takes root, it can’t be stopped.

“Canada is the prime example of the slippery slope,” said Schadenberg. “The EPC is warning the world not to follow Canada’s lead. In less than five years Canada, has legalized killing by euthanasia and expanded it to include people with mental illness.”

The Senate passed C-7 despite a plea from Conservative Senate leader Don Plett to his colleagues.

“If there was ever a time to exercise sober second thought, it is now,” Plett said. “It is not often that we can truly say that with this vote we have the opportunity to save lives, to prevent the unnecessary premature death of the vulnerable, to offer hope to those who have lost it. But today we do.”

But even as Canada’s MAiD system now makes it easier to access a medical death, opponents do see a silver lining.

“The good news is that Bill C-7 activated thousands of Canadians from different perspectives” during the debate and has forced Canadians to consider the ramifications of how euthanasia has expanded, Schadenberg said.

“People with disabilities, Indigenous people, medical and mental health professionals and many others are committed to reversing the euthanasia trend.”

The government acknowledged there are still many MAiD issues to be debated, such as the eligibility of mature minors, advance requests, protection for those living with disabilities. It said a parliamentary review of the MAiD legislation would begin within 30 days.

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