Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Senator Betty Unger: I cannot support (Bill C-14) euthanasia and assisted suicide.

This speech was delivered by Senator Betty Unger in Canada's Senate and posted on her website on June 15, 2016
Senator Betty Unger

"I do not know what is more alarming:
The fact that we are on the wrong road,
or the fact that we do not recognize it
and that so many are cheering"
Senator Betty Unger
Speaking to Bill C-14

Honourable Senators, I stand here today as but one voice in this Chamber.

My voice is not as loud or as strong as others in this House.

Yet behind me stand many, by the thousands, who wish their voices could be heard.

I am honoured to be speaking on their behalf.

And today, I hope you do not just hear my voice, but the sound of their voices as well.

These are the many people who weep that Canada’s moral fabric is being destroyed: Who beg us not to underestimate the harm that will follow when our hitherto and dearly held values are being shredded.

These are the elderly and the vulnerable: Who have now been burdened with new fears about visiting their doctor or being admitted to the hospital.

I propose to you that if this legislation was for a clear moral good there would be no need for debate.

It would be resoundingly supported not only in these halls, but in the halls of our nation.

Yet we do not hear such a sound, fellow Senators.

We hear the sound of division, of anger, of disagreement, and of fear.

I do not know which is more alarming:

The fact that we are on the wrong road, or the fact that we do not recognize it and that so many are cheering.

A fundamental tenant is, “Do not kill the innocent. Life is sacred.”

Yet in considering this legislation we have dismissed so many safeguards that the innocent are certain to be killed.

Why we cannot see it, I do not know.

Ignoring the lessons of history we elevate the right of the individual over the good of society.

Canada has had its democratic values uprooted: While in theory, “Parliament is Supreme”, this has become blatantly false.

The Supreme Court has supplanted our elected Parliamentarians by foisting “Judge-made law” on Canadians.

And although Parliaments across the nation could invoke the notwithstanding clause to ensure that this decision receives its proper deliberation, they seem unprepared to do so.

Where did we go so wrong, and when will we admit that the Supreme Court has gone too far?

What will it take? On what will they rule next?

Is there no situation under which the parliaments of Canada would be prepared to exercise their right under the Charter and invoke the notwithstanding clause?

I, for one, am not holding my breath, and I believe we are wrong, my friends. This story does not end well.

My only hope is that more and more Canadians are beginning to realize that something is terribly wrong and are rejecting the benign-sounding Medical Assistance in Dying Bill C-14.

Regrettably, far too few parliamentarians are amongst them.

I cannot support this legislation.

I don’t think this has been our finest hour: politics were ever-present. But may the gracious God who gave us life have mercy on us when He takes it in the end.


Morten Horn said...

How terribly sad that Betty Unger chose to end this excellent speech - voiced in such a way that it could be embraced by not only opponents to assisted dying laws, but also that grey majority in the middle of the battlefield, who may be able to see the dangers inherent in this legislation - that she ends this speech by ruining it.

What on earth has the gracious god got to do with it? In Canada, as well as in most Western countries, a large proportion of the populace is sick with the Christian church and other religious communities trying to impose their own, faith-based moral values on an increasingly secular society. For some people, opposing the Church is a reason good enough to allow practices condemned by the Church.

By adding this small line at the end of her talk, Betty Unger managed to frame assisted dying as a question of religious belief. That's terribly sad, because a lot of people no longer feel constrained by religious restrictions. She ruined a very thoughtful and thought-provoking speech by making it something that only religious people can attune to.

The arguments against Canada's horrible assisted dying law are so strong, so plentiful, so rational and so based on the most universal principles of justice and medicine - there is no need to call upon religious powers to reinforce them. On the contrary, by doing so Betty Unger is undermining her own (and ours) cause by turning it into an religious issue.

Morten Horn, MD PhD, Neurologist and humanist/atheist, Oslo, Norway

Anonymous said...

Dear Doctor Morten,
Please stay with the issue and not get so side tracked condemning another individual for expressing their comments.

Hopefully we can work together toward a common goal while respecting ours personal beliefs.

Jule Koch said...

Doctor Morten Horn,
I certainly agree that the arguments against Canada's horrible assisted dying law are strong, plentiful, rational and based on the most universal principles of justice and medicine. However, why do you think this bill has been passed, since that is the case?

Gord Schneider said...

Dr. Horn; It is because of your beliefs and those who agree with you (that you so happily try to push on others) and your bigotry towards Christians and indeed the Honourable Senator who wrote this magnificent piece, that your country, ideed the whole world is in a such a downward moral spiral.

With Doctors like you out there pusing these ideas, who am ever to trust with my life anymore? You presumably took an oath to preserve life........please honour that oath. Morality can never be subjective. Surely you understand some basic truths about human, God given life.

You comments were inapropiate in this instance. You owe this publication, the Honourable Senator, and those who support their ideas, an apology.

Blanche Crowder said...

Well said Senator Unger! This is for those who do not believe in God... Just because you don't believe in Him does not change the reality of His existence...and He still loves you as much today as He did from the time you were conceived in your mother's womb.

Chris said...

Thank you very much Senator Unger! I so wish there were more that thought this way. What used to be unthinkable has now become the norm. Our poor posterity.

Bruce S said...

*God's commandment; Thou shalt NOT kill, includes yourself, i.e. Your own body!

Canada was founded on Christianity According to the Bible
& used in the founding of Canada. The Torah.and Qu'ran also
state the main commandment from God is "thou shalt NOT kill",
This applies to ALL humans!
So, is Our government composed of murderers in the eyes of God?
Are they usurping age old commandments from God? Are they
egotistical enough to believe themselves smarter and above God'?!

*This of course applies to ALL who consent, or have any
involvement in the death of anyone, INCLUDING themselves!

People in pain, who believe in God have the option to put all their
pain & suffering unto the Lord. It is written/Jesus said, "All Ye who
suffer and are heavy laden come unto Me and I will give You rest"
(from your pain & suffering).

As a 74 year old Senior Myself, I will cease to trust any doctor, or
hospital, or even a caregiver who may be in agreement with the
so called "assisted suicide" (murder) of seniors &/or the disabled!

Shirley Ann Beecroft said...

Thank you Senator Unger for being a voice against the Assisted Dying Bill (Bill C - 14). Your logicaly reasoned and well stated arguments are a pleasure to read. I wish some of our other senators and the elected members of the lower house had given as much thought to this issue as you have done. You have indeed voiced the opinions of many of us regular citizens and have backed up your arguments well. I appreciate your courage in doing so.

Morten Horn said...

Some people, understandably enough, reacted to my comments on the concluding words by Senator Unger.
I would like to stress that I'm one of Norway's most dedicated campaigners AGAINST the legalization of assisted suicide. It wouldn't be far off to guess that I'm one of those doctors being most visible in the national debate on this topic.

I have to say - unlike in Canada - assisted suicide is still illegal in Norway. However, strong forces are trying to change this. And one of the most popular lines of argument is that the prohibition of euthanasia is a left-over from the days when Christianity ruled society. That much as we now have embraced the rights of people diverse sexual orientation, of female priests, the rights of women to control their own body through contraception and abortions - that we should free ourselves from the restrictions that Christianity would bind us with, and let people decide over their own life and death.

One may like or dislike these arguments, find them fair or unfair. But one can hardly dismiss them as nonexistent. I firmly believe that a lot of the debate on assisted dying in Canada, as well as in California, was being derailed in such a fashion. I've read complaints from the organisations of disabled people in California, who felt neglected by the media and the politicians, overshadowed by the Catholic church.

Fact is that our stances on religion are fracturing us. Our stances on the value of human beings and the equal rights of protection regardless of age or physical or mental condition unites us. People who campaign against the legalization of euthanasia should be aware that references to Christianity is among the surest and easiest ways for the proponents to hit our union. We should focus on that which is uniting us and strengthens our cause.

Gary Beuker said...

Dear Dr. Horn,

How terribly sad that some people could reject the Senator’s speech---throw out the baby with the bath, so-to-speak---simply because she brought the name of God into her speech.

I am happy to hear there are doctors in Norway that oppose assisted suicide. If you are indeed “one of Norway's most dedicated campaigners AGAINST the legalization of assisted suicide”, I applaud you. I commend you for “standing in the gap”, whatever your reasons.

Personally, I think the bulk of opposition to legalized suicide is based on the belief in Christian principles. I don’t know about “Christianity ruling society”, but do know that the laws of Canada were based on belief in God and acceptance of Christian principles. So I suspect a large portion of the remnant who oppose legalization base their opposition on these beliefs. If others---including yourself---have other reasons for opposing legalization, all the better. I still welcome you.

It is sad to hear that there are people out there who hate God so much that they feel a need to oppose anything that is based on Christian principles.

Gary Beuker

Unknown said...

Euthanasia is wrong because the end does not justify the means. An end of suffering does not justify killing an innocent human life. One should desire to end suffering. But the means in which that end is sought must be moral.