Monday, April 28, 2014

Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide is not safe.

This letter was submitted to the Globe and Mail, but not printed, in response to an article that was written by Jeffrey Simpson.

Oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide. Sign the Declaration of Hope.

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director 
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

I would like to thank Jeffrey Simpson for his comments on assisted death, but his inaccurate analysis actually shows why assisted suicide should not be legalized.

Canada has debated assisted death on many occasions with the most recent vote in parliament occurring in April 2010 when assisted death was defeated by a vote of 228 to 59. That was a pretty strong consensus, even if Simpson was not pleased with its result.

One reason the bill in 2010 was overwhelmingly defeated was that the language of the bill was imprecise and permissive. When Simpson refers to the recent bill in Quebec he stated that it contained appropriate safeguards, and yet the language of the Quebec bill was also imprecise and permissive.

The Quebec euthanasia bill and Bill C-384 would have allowed euthanasia for psychological pain such as chronic depression or mental illness, which are treatable conditions, and these bills were not limited to terminally ill people.

When examining Fletcher’s euthanasia bills we see the same language being used except that Fletcher is not imprecise but rather intentional. The language of Fletcher’s bills specifically focus on assisted death for people with disabilities and once again he specifically allows assisted death for psychological conditions. Fletcher’s bills are also not limited to terminal illness.

Simpson states that there is no consensus among medical professionals. A Canadian Medical Association poll in 2013 found that only 16% of its members were willing to participate in assisted death and a 2010 survey of Canadian palliative care physicians  found that 88% were opposed to assisted death. A consensus appears to exist.

Simpson referred to the jurisdictions where assisted death is legal and stated that it represents a very small percentage of the deaths. The number of assisted deaths in the Netherlands doubled in the past 6 years, with 23% of the assisted deaths being unreported while assisted death for psychiatric reasons tripled last year alone.

This year Belgium extended euthanasia to children and in the Netherlands the Groningen Protocol allows assisted death for children born with disabilities.

In response to the Fletcher bills, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) stated that we welcomed an open debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide. Ignoring the facts is at our own peril. 

Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide is not safe.

No comments: