Euthanasia bill pitched again in Canada

  • March 18, 2010
{mosimage}OTTAWA - Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde made yet another pitch for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the House of Commons March 16 with her private member’s Bill C-384.

Only about 10 MPs were in the House for the debate. It will have one hour of debate before a vote on second reading. If it passes it will be sent to committee for further study.

Lalonde said the Criminal Code hinders genuine debate on vital questions such as euthanasia.

“Who can repeatedly say with confidence that helping someone in unbearable pain, particularly someone in palliative care — that is definitely unbearable pain — is a crime?” she asked. “Many witnesses speak about helping someone die peacefully, so that they do not suffer. Is that really murder? Is that really a crime? Many of them say it is not.”

But Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director Alex Schadenberg said Lalonde is redefining what euthanasia is.

“Let’s debate the facts,” he said. “Euthanasia is when we directly and intentionally cause someone’s death by an action or omission... It’s in her advantage to create confusion and that’s what she’s been trying to do.”

He said the Quebec College of Physicians has contributed to the same confusion when it said the withdrawal of burdensome treatment at end of life is euthanasia and there is “no difference between killing someone and letting them die.”

A number of MPs spoke against Bill C-384

“Does the member not understand that contrary to her intentions, this bill will allow doctors to provide a patient with a lethal injection, making many Canadians vulnerable to a premature death?” Conservative MP James Lunney asked.

Lalonde responded that “we cannot force our religion on others.”

“I think that in Canada, as attitudes and needs evolve, Parliament should legislate not according to specific religions, but according to the right an individual must have if they are suffering, if they have suffered and if they are seeking help to die.”

Liberal MP Paul Szabo raised concerns about coercion and conflicts of interest by family members, as well as what determines competency to make a decision for an assisted death. He warned of errors and peoples’ lives being wrongly terminated.

“People are not valueless because they are chronically dependent or dying,” Szabo said.

NDP MP Joe Comartin said Canada is not ready for exempting euthanasia from the Criminal Code because it has not adequately trained physicians in pain control. Only 20 per cent of the country has full palliative and hospice care services and another 15-20 per cent has partial services, he said. When proper care and pain management is provided, patients can die in dignity through a natural death.

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