This is a great little reflection from The B.C. Catholic newspaper on the risk that the Quebec euthanasia bill poses for vulnerable people and the death penalty, removed in Canada for the very same reason:
Politicians un-holster euphemisms for murder
by Malin Jordan
Canada effectively eliminated capital punishment 50 years ago, but now some want to bring back state-sponsored killing. The de facto year of abolition was 1963, when successive governments began commuting all death sentences. (In 1976 a bill was passed to officially take the death penalty off the books for capital crimes.)
The main reason for eliminating the death penalty was the public's fear of wrongful conviction. Secondary reasons were a concern for state-sponsored murder and the doubt about its function as a deterrent.
Canada (and its British and French colonial precursors) executed 710 people between 1759 and 1963. That's an average of about three and a half executions per year.
In contrast, Texas, a U.S. state that enforces capital punishment today, and the state with the highest rate of execution in the U.S., has executed 1,251 people since 1819 for capital crimes. That works out to be an average of six and a half people each year.
There are also groups in Texas that want to end capital punishment there, most notably the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, for fear of wrongful convictions.
But if Canadians have rejected the death penalty over fears that one innocent person may be put to death for a crime they did not commit, why are so many clamouring to implement euthanasia - the euphemistic term for home-grown, state-sponsored murder of vulnerable people - for people who are 100 per cent innocent?
With the recent decriminalization of assisted suicide in B.C. (though the judge suspended the ruling for one year and the federal government is also challenging it in court) and now with the Parti Québécois tabling Bill 52 seeking to legalize assisted suicide in Quebec, Canadians must again ask themselves the same question we were asking 50 years ago. Is one innocent death too many?
Statistics from jurisdictions that have implemented euthanasia are staggering.
Consider Belgium. Euthanasia is so prevalent there it accounted for 1 per cent of total Belgian deaths in 2011. A recent study called "Ten Years of Law Enforcement in Belgium" looked at the first decade of "right to die" legislation, and the numbers tell a sad story. In 2003 there were 235 cases of euthanasia and in 2011 there were 1,133.
In 2011 alone, Belgium outstripped Canada and almost beat out Texas for total number of deaths by capital punishment in roughly 200 years. Were there no innocent deaths in Belgium in 2011? No instances of abuse or bullying of the vulnerable?
Talk about a slippery slope!
Only three weeks ago, the Belgian government seemed to reach a consensus on a bill introduced in December last year to expand euthanasia to children. (As politicians there un-holster every euphemism in their arsenal, they still contradict themselves. Belgian politicians say they want to expand the "right to choose to die" to children, yet Peter Deconinck, president of the Belgian medical ethics organization, testified before a Belgian Senate committee looking into the issue and said, "We all know that euthanasia is already practised on children.")
So the truth comes out. Children are being murdered, and the Belgians want to channel their inner Pontius Pilate to wash themselves of the guilt by legalizing it?
The safeguard argument never worked for capital punishment. Why should we accept the safeguard argument for marginalized groups of people, namely the physically and mentally disabled and the elderly?
Don't forget that disabled and elderly people are twice as likely to be physically, financially, and emotionally abused as their younger, non-disabled counterparts.
If assisted suicide is legalized in Canada, that abuse and bullying will be institutionalized in the same way capital punishment was - state-sponsored murder of its own citizens.
Doctors killing adults is immoral. But if Bill 52 passes in Quebec, it will only be the beginning for them and the rest of us. Once legalized murder is enacted, it won't be long before advocates will attempt to extend this immoral act to children.
Euthanasia is an assault on the most vulnerable. As Canadians we need to reject this and stand up for the innocent.
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