By Alex Schadenberg Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying) was tabled today in the House of Commons.
Bill C-14 appears more restrictive in comparison to the radical recommendations from the government assisted dying committee. The bill does not extend euthanasia to mature minors, to people with dementia, or to people who seek death by lethal injection based only on psychological reasons and it appears to require the person to have a terminal condition.
In reality the bill provides legal immunity to anyone, who kills another, while the bill fails to provide effective oversight of the law or conscience rights for healthcare professionals.
There are significant problems with the design of the bill. Here are a few examples:
1. The bill does not provide effective oversight of the law. The bill requires approval for euthanasia or assisted suicide be done by two independent physicians or nurse practitioners, without requiring before the death oversight from an independent third-party. The bill permits a doctor or nurse practitioner to approve the act to be the person who does the act and to be the person who reports the act. There is no effective oversight when the same person approves the lethal injection, does the lethal injection and reports the lethal injection. Once the person is dead, it is too late to find out that the person who died was incompetent or coerced.
2. The bill provides legal immunity to "any person" who directly participates in euthanasia and assisted suicide. Section 241(3) provides legal immunity to any person who does anything for the purpose of aiding a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner to provide a person with medical assistance in dying. Section 241(5) gives legal immunity to anyone who does anything, at another person's explicit request, for the purpose of aiding that other person to self-administer a substance that has been prescribed for that other person as part of the provision of medical assistance in dying. These sections of the bill may be interpreted to apply to family members or friends who are involved with the act of ending life. But at the same time, the bill lacks definition, so in fact it could be interpreted to apply to anyone.
This bill provides the perfect cover for acts of murder.
3. The bill does not provide conscience protection for medical practitioners or nurse practitioners. Medical professionals who consider killing patients as the antithesis to medical care are not provided conscience protection and they are required under (Section 241.31) to send requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide to a "designated recipient" or the Minister of Health.
This bill does not provide effective oversight of the law. This bill provides the perfect cover for acts of murder by enabling "other people" who directly participate in the act. This bill does not provide conscience protection for medical professionals who oppose killing patients. This bill is not a harm reduction model, nor does it provide safe spaces for people who are particularly opposed to being killed by lethal injection.
With any legislation, the devil is in the details. The details in this bill are particularly dangerous for Canadians in their time of need.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is a national organization of citizens and groups who support caring measures and oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide. EPC has more than 25,000 supporters.