Euthanasia debate heating up in Canada
With Bill C-384 set for debate in parliament in September, public debate on the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide has been heating up during the past few weeks. I’ve been meaning to weigh in with a post, but it’s been hard to keep up, so here’s a round up of some good coverage.
Andrea Mrozek at ProWomanProlife highlights a letter to the editor published in the Ottawa Citizen, written by Jakki Jeffs of Alliance for Life Ontario:
Any doctor worth their salt knows that you do not have to kill someone at the end of life. They know that there is a chasm of difference between the possible secondary effect of pain management, which rarely, but may, hasten death and the actual purposeful intent to kill a patient. We will have the debate, I am sure. It will be headlined with the fearmongering which has kept step with euthanasia’s progress across the globe. We have regressed to the point where we want to judge some lives not worthy of life and, in that judgment, sanction their execution. We will not call it that, of course, in order not to distress societal sensitivities.
We have up until recently assumed that we cannot control life’s end. When that was the case — just as when we used to think we could not control life’s beginning — caretaking for those at the heart of the drama was accepted as everyone’s responsibility. But now we would view late-life sufferers, as we used to consider unwed mothers, as having gotten themselves “in trouble” and in need of a termination to that trouble. Of course, as with abortion, the pregnant woman, or the sufferer pregnant, so to speak, with pain, can choose not to terminate. But then, if that’s your choice, the result of the choice (the baby, the suffering) is also your problem, isn’t it? Because in the case of the sufferer, if you haven’t made a deliberate decision to die, then continuing to live is not a given, something you needn’t concern yourself with; rather, continuing to live then also becomes a deliberate decision, one for which you, not your family and society, are responsible.
Instead of empowering women, abortion has placed many women in a cleft stick. As Stith notes: “One investigator, Vincent M. Rue, reported in the Medical Science Monitor, that 64% of American women who abort feel pressed to do so by others. Another, Frederica Mathewes-Green in her book Real Choices, discovered that American women almost always abort to satisfy the desires of people who do not want to care for their children.” If you substitute the words “euthanize” for “abort” and “elderly” or “chronically ill” for “children,” the analogy with end-of-life termination could not be more clear.
Wrapped in euphemisms and double-talk, another long step toward making it legal in Canada for doctors to deliberately end the life of patients in certain circumstances has been taken.
Startlingly also, among those eligible to be legally killed by a doctor might be depressed 18-year-old teenagers who refuse their medications. A doctor would also no longer commit a crime by supplying a lethal dose to enable such depressed teenagers to kill themselves.
It’s all a long way from what many people think of as a suitable case for euthanasia: an elderly person who is terminally ill and in excruciating pain who repeatedly and unmistakably asks for death. There is probably the support of most Canadians for exempting your doctor from a murder charge in that strictly limited case.
This kind of obfuscation is a striking characteristic of campaigners for the so-called “right to die with dignity,” which in reality means making it legal for somebody else to kill you or to help you commit suicide.
And on the topic of the slippery slope dangers:
Consider the Netherlands, where so-called mercy killing has been formally legal since 2002 and factually legal for three decades. Several government reports have acknowledged that many people have been legally euthanized without their knowledge or consent.
In Oregon, state officials have conceded that they really don’t know how many people have been prescribed a lethal dose of drugs to kill themselves, only those that have been reported by doctors.
Anderson does a good job of dissecting the specifics of the bill as well, so do read the whole thing.
Alex Schadenberg also dismantles a problematic article about Quebec physicians proposing legal euthanasia, arguing that this is about protecting doctors, not helping patients, and that the effect would be “erasing the distinction between caring for people and killing people.”
It’s important to stay on top of this issue as we head into the fall. We’ll be doing our best to keep you updated.