Thursday, August 18, 2011

Farewell Foundation case rejected. BCCLA case is a Recipe for Elder Abuse

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) is seeking intervener status in the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) - (Carter/Taylor) case expected that the Farewell Foundation case would be rejected because they lacked standing in the court.

The Farewell Foundation, founded by euthanasia lobby leader, Russel Ogden, sought to legalize "Swiss syle" assisted suicide in Canada, meaning that doctors and others could be involved with assisted the suicide of people who are in the most vulnerable time of their life.

The BCCLA (Carter/Taylor) case differs from the Farewell Foundation case by the fact that it seeks to legalize physician assisted suicide, whereby doctors prescribe suicide, and physician directed euthanasia, where physicians administer a lethal injection.

The EPC considers the BCCLA case to be dangerous to public safety and a recipe for elder abuse. The scourge of elder abuse has become a national concern and the prevention of elder abuse has become a national priority. Elder abuse is horrifically under-reported because research indicates that up to 70% of the time it is done by family members or people to whom the victim is dependent upon.

The BCCLA case will open new avenues for elder abuse because it would enable family members and care-givers to subtly pressure or coerce a vulnerable person into "choosing" death by lethal dose. For many, choice will be only an illusion.

The EPC rejects the idea that it is somehow necessary to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide to have a dignified death. A parliamentary committee that has investigated and is making recommendations for improvements in Palliative care, Elder Abuse prevention, Suicide prevention and the needs of Canadians with disabilities, is due to release its report in November 2011. The BCCLA cannot suggest that legalizing euthanasia is necessary before it has given the government a chance to implement this report.

In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, the suicide rate has steadily climbed since 2000 with Oregon's suicide rate now being 35% higher than the national average. This corresponds with other trends that suggest that the social acceptance of assisted suicide creates a suicide contagion effect.

The EPC is particularly concerned with the language of the BCCLA - Notice of Application which indicates a particularly negative attitude to the lives of people with disabilities. Living with a disability is not a life not worth living but rather a challenge to society to enable people with disabilities to live with equality and acceptance.

The EPC is also very concerned with the one-sided presentation by the media of these cases. I cannot remember a more monolithically one-sided presentation by the media of an important social question.

Even though the EPC is seeking intervener status in the case, we have been rarely contacted, even after sending out a media release, and when contacted and interviewed our comments have gone missing from the article. Media outlets will state that Canadians support the legalization of assisted suicide, even though the media has utterly failed at providing a balanced perspective.

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