Coalition forms to defeat latest Canadian euthanasia bill

  • May 21, 2009
{mosimage}OTTAWA - Life-affirming groups are mounting an offensive against a Bloc Quebecois’ MP’s third attempt to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Francine Lalonde introduced her private members’ Bill C-384 to legalize euthanasia on May 13, the day before 12,300 Canadians came to Ottawa for the National March for Life. Her previous bills died when elections were called.

A coalition of organizations hope to defeat the bill on second reading, a vote that could happen early in the fall. The organizations include Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Catholic Organization for Life and Family, Catholic Civil Rights League and the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies.

“It’s not about your choice, it’s about doctors and medical practitioners having the right to take someone else’s life if they follow the rules properly,” said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

“If we really believe that all Canadian citizens are equal, we should protect everyone equally by maintaining the legal prohibition of killing,” said COLF director Michèle Boulva. “This is essential to the basic trust of living together.

“Let’s remember that the so-called ‘right-to-die’ goes hand in hand with the ‘right to kill.’ We cannot let this happen in our country.”

Lalonde told the House of Commons it was time for Parliament to “decriminalize medical assistance in dying” for those “whose suffering can no longer be relieved except by this ultimate compassion.”

“We find it particularly ironic that Francine Lalonde’s private members’ bill to permit assisted suicide had its first reading during Respect for Life week,” said Rights’ League Executive Director Joanne McGarry in a May 14 news release. “While the issues of abortion and end-of-life care are by no means identical, there are many parallels between how the ‘right-to-die’ lobby is making its case now, and how abortion was promoted prior to its liberalization in 1969, notably in the appeals to compassion and the suggestion that it would decriminalize something that goes on a lot already.”

Dr. Tim Lau, president of the physicians’ societies, said the passing of such a bill would devalue life and send a message to vulnerable people that they are “better off dead,” allows doing harm in the killing of another human being and endorses “the rational choice of suicide.”

“To have legislation means that we, as a society, are saying it is a good thing, a medically endorsed, provincially funded thing,” said Lau. “Consider the scary provisions for mental illness and suffering.”

McGarry said fear of unrelieved pain and being a burden to families has motivated interest in euthanasia, but these fears could be better addressed through improvement of health care services for the terminally ill, including home care.

Schadenberg said the bill is not about autonomy or death with dignity. 

“Good palliative care creates death with dignity,” he said, calling it “insulting” to equate euthanasia with a dignified death.

“To assume the only way to have dignity when you’re dying is to inject a poison into your bloodstream seems ridiculous at best,” he said.

Boulva urged Catholics to contact their MPs and the media to explain why they reject assisted suicide and euthanasia.

“We know that a just law can never allow one person to kill another one or to help another one kill himself or herself,” she said. “Such actions are a failure to love. They are not worthy of our humanity.”

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