I like to think that activists who promote the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide are people who have the best of intentions but view life in a different way than I do.
When I attended the World Federation of Right to Die Societies bi-annual conference in Toronto (Sept 2006), I experienced a very different reality.
Many of the people present were directly involved in skirting the law by causing the death of people.
The concern I have for vulnerable people was simply negated and all effective opposition to their ideology was attacked as religious dogmatism.
I have been told that Francine Lalonde is a nice person but when I read Bill C-562 I feel the same type of unrest in my heart as I felt when I attended the Right to Die conference.
The bill legalizes euthanasia and assisted suicide for people who experience physical and mental pain. People who experience mental pain are often among the most socially devalued persons in our culture and yet Lalonde is willing to prescribe death instead of compassionate care for them.
The bill does not define terminal illness. Does it not concern Lalonde that people who receive a terminal diagnosis are often immediately shocked by that information? Many people go through a tempory depression after learning of their medical condition and only after experiencing a supportive environment or a period of acceptance do they once again gain composure.
The bill bases competency on whether or not the person appears to be lucid. Does Lalonde not realize that one is not competent unless they are actually lucid? Many people who experience chronic depression will appear to be lucid when in fact they are not competent to make important decisions.
The bill does not limit euthanasia and assisted suicide to physicians. Lalonde uses the term medical practitioner as defined by provincial law. This term is not limited to physicians only.
I do not like to compare Bill C-562 to the type of advocacy work that is associated with Dr. Philip Nitschke, Australia’s Dr. Death, but Nitschke advocated that Graeme Wylie be allowed to die by euthanasia, even though he had Alzheimer's disease and was incompetent to consent to the act.
Bill C-562 allows for the euthanasia of incompetent people so long as they have made the request in a valid advanced directive. Is Lalonde not concerned that medical practitioners may use this part of her bill to eliminate many of the most expensive patients in our long-term care facilities?
The problem with the “Dying with Dignity” movement is that they claim to be about legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide for terminally ill people who are suffering uncontrolled pain, but that is only their calling card. In reality they are about the “right to die” becoming recognized as a radical new human right that will be available to everyone, at anytime, for any reason.
Bill C-562 would move Canada very close to that radical social position.