Thursday, November 17, 2011

Council of Canadians with Disabilities hopes court will rule no on killing

Media Release - November 17, 2011

CCD hopes court will rule no on killing

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national organization of people with disabilities working for an accessible and inclusive Canada, is alarmed by the case, Carter v. Attorney General of Canada, which is a constitutional challenge to Canadian law prohibiting physician-assisted suicide. Legalized assisted suicide is a recipe for lethal abuse.

In 2010, the House of Commons voted (228 to 59) against legalizing assisted suicide, striking down Bill C-384, which would have removed Criminal Code provisions against assisted suicide. CCD applauded the defeat of Bill C-384 and believes nothing in the intervening time has occurred that necessitates the overturning of a law designed to protect Canadians from being killed. With their vote on C-384, our elected representatives said no to killing; we urge Canadian judges also to say no to killing.

Dr. van der Wal of Holland testified before the Senate Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide that people who had not made an explicit request for an assisted suicide nevertheless were being killed under the auspices of that country’s assisted suicide provisions.

Through personal experiences, people with disabilities know that we are often perceived to be suffering pain and enduring lives that are not worth living. Such misconceptions can lead to unwanted assistance in dying. Many of us with disabilities want the protection afforded by the Criminal Code’s prohibition against assisted suicide to continue.

The assisted suicide debate is a conflict between some individuals’ desires for an extreme form of personal autonomy—assistance in executing their own death at a time of their own choosing—and other individuals’ desires to prevent the lethal abuse of people, particularly those who are socially devalued, such as people with disabilities. One unwanted death due to misconceptions about quality of life is too many.

An important first step to preventing lethal abuse of our human right to life is preservation of the Criminal Code’s prohibitions against assisted suicide. Canada’s legislators got this question right in 2010. We hope that the court, when deciding the Carter case, pays heed to the decision taken by Canada’s Members of Parliament on the question in 2010.
For more information contact:
Rhonda Wiebe, Co-chair, CCD Ending of Life Ethics Committee, Cell: 204-952-1514
Dean Richert, Co-chair, CCD Ending of Life Ethics Committee, Cell: 204-951-6273
Jim Derksen, Member, CCD Ending of Life Ethics Committee, Tel: 204-786-7937
Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator, Tel: 204-947-0303

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