The following is an edited version of the excellent article by Jean Echlin.
Ugly issue back again.
With the advent of Carter versus the Attorney General of Canada, Canada's laws prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide are being challenged again. This despite the fact that our federal Parliament vetoed Bill C-384 that sought to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia by an overwhelming vote of 228 to 59 in 2010.
Included in the British Columbia appeal is an effort to legalize these practices as "medical treatment," meaning that a medical doctor or "a person operating under the general supervision of a medical practitioner" will be allowed to assist a patient's suicide. This could be a family member and could be done at home.
If the pro-killing side gets its way, five people on the Supreme Court can overrule Parliament and demand change in the Criminal Code that forbids euthanasia and assisted suicide. What would this scenario do to our democratic process and the rights of a majority of Canadians?
Who would be at risk? You are. So is everyone in this country.
To paraphrase many knowledgeable authorities within the Euthanasia Prevention Coalitions worldwide, the request for a change in our Criminal Code is an invitation to elder abuse.
Many of our elderly population feel abandoned and burdensome to our society and healthcare system. If assisted suicide is legalized, it will empower the health-care system and family members to pressure older people to shorten their lives.
Persons with disabilities are equally at risk. The elderly and those with disabilities are groups that society often discriminates against and fails to respect or protect. Rather, these groups are looked upon as costly burdens.
Another significant health issue is suicide prevention. A change in the criminal code would foster the idea of suicide for those with depression and anxiety. It's called: "suicide contagion." In other words, one suicide encourages others. Persons with mental health is-sues are at increased risk and can be easily manipulated.
My own list of those at high risk includes partners in scenarios of domestic violence, especially when there is a power imbalance. It would be exceptionally easy for the powerful partner to quietly kill the "offensive partner" and just claim he or she "was so depressed and pleaded for assistance in dying."
Children must be included in the risk groups since the Netherlands has developed a protocol for killing children with even minor disabilities up to the age of 12.
The "Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care" will be releasing its research and recommendations regarding pain management, palliative care, elder abuse and suicide prevention.
It is imperative that Parliament and all Canadians follow and adhere to the profoundly important message from this non-partisan committee.