Alex Schadenberg Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Ed: The Canadian experience is unique in the world. Long before the legislative debate and even now forces are jockeying to make the bill as braod as possible; to start at least at the point where Belgium is now.
In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's assisted suicide laws and used language to allow for the legalization of euthanasia. In their decision, the Supreme Court ordered parliament to legislate on the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
One argument employed by the Supreme court in their decision clearly protected people was that Canada would employ a rigorous set of safeguards that would ensure that abuse of the law does not occur and there is no proof that Canada will experience an expansion of the law, that many of those who intervened against euthanasia and assisted suicide had predicted.
Well, Bill C-14 is not the law yet, the predicted expansion of the law is already occurring.
Andrew Coyne, a National Post columnist exposes the push to expand euthanasia, in his column: Who says the Supreme Court of Canada won't change its mind on assisted suicide - yet again? Coyne states that:
Advocates of assisted suicide have already served notice they will challenge the legislation in court: because it does not apply to children, or the mentally incompetent; because it defines "grievous and irremediable" to mean, in part, that the patient's "natural death has become reasonably foreseeable;" even for imposing a 15-day waiting period (since amended to 10).
They will not rest, in short, until there is an unrestricted right to death on demand.
Coyne explains the inconsistency of the claims for euthanasia expansion:
...it is bizarre to see the same people discover, in a ruling that was expressly limited to mentally competent adults, a right to assisted suicide for children and the mentally incompetent. Bizarre, but not necessarily wrong. It is difficult to say how this Court will rule on any given question, and indeed the Court's own logic, in finding in the Charter's "right to life" a right to death, redefined as relief from suffering, would leave it little room to refuse that relief on the basis of age or infirmity, when the case is brought.
If, likewise, the court could reverse its own decision before, it may be persuaded to do so again. The justification offered for overturning Rodriguez was that in the interval the "matrix of legislative and social facts" had changed; that the fear that had justified the law then, namely that assisted suicide would otherwise come to be applied to a wider and wider expanse of the population, had been disproved by experience; or at any rate that whatever might have happened in Belgium and the Netherlands - where the numbers of those euthanized annually has skyrocketed, and where it is now available not only to children and the mentally ill but for the relief of all manner of ailments - could not happen here, on account of our differing "medico-legal cultures."
In other words, the incremental expansion of the law is already occurring, even before Bill C-14 has passed into law. The hubris of the Court has already proven to be wrong. Coyne ends by stating:
But even if that were true at the time of the court's ruling, it is clearly not true any more. The notion of extending assisted suicide to children and the mentally incompetent, once derided as "slippery slope" alarmism, is now the next item on the agenda. So it would be entirely open to the Court to find that the matrix of legislative and social facts had shifted again.
I'm not saying it will. But it certainly won't if it is not asked.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition will never stop working to protect people from euthanasia and assisted suicide, through supports and through the courts.