Monday, December 14, 2020

Andrew Coyne: Canada is accelerating toward death-on-demand.

Andrew Coyne wrote the following opinion column, that was published in the Globe and Mail on December 11, 2020. Coyne, who has been writing about issues related to euthanasia and assisted suicide for many years examines Canada's move from cautiously considering euthanasia to Bill C-7 which nearly permits death on demand.
Coyne writes:
Six years ago, before the Supreme Court discovered a right to die in the constitution’s guarantee of the right to life, what most people understood as the case for assisted suicide was something like the following: a mentally competent adult, suffering acute pain from a terminal illness and facing more of the same to the end, comes to a firm and unwavering decision to kill herself – but is physically unable, by virtue of the same illness, to do so unaided, or fears she will be unable to when the time comes.

That was the condition of Sue Rodriguez, whose 1993 Supreme Court appeal challenging the constitutionality of the Criminal Code prohibition on assisting in a suicide, though unsuccessful, first brought the issue to public attention. It was also the condition of Gloria Taylor, the woman on whose case the Court based its 2015 decision legalizing the practice (Lee Carter, whose name is attached to the decision’s short-form title, was merely a co-appellant).

Had you predicted then that the right to an assisted suicide would soon come to apply, not only in cases of physical pain but psychological, and not only to patients in the last agonizing stages of death but those who were nowhere near it – had you predicted, indeed, that a patient’s request to be killed would not even have to be repeated and persistent for a doctor to act on it, that the whole process could be telescoped into a single day – you would have been accused of “slippery slope” thinking.

Had you predicted that, by 2019, just the third full year after it was legalized, nearly one in 50 deaths in the country would be by assisted suicide, even on the (almost certainly underreported) official numbers; and that, this having been accomplished, talk would turn to extending the procedure – not just to competent adults, but the mentally ill and even children – you would have been carted off.

Yet that, incredibly, is where we are. The cautious, limited exceptions that people understood the issue to involve at the start – what most people understand it to involve even now – have been overtaken by an accelerating drive toward death-on-demand. Had the public known this was where we were headed, they might have objected. Instead it has been done in stages, a series of bait-and-switch routines in which the courts and legislatures have taken equal part.

The irony is that the very foundation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Carter was that there was no such slippery slope. Perhaps assisted suicide, once legalized, might have spread and metastasized in other countries, barbaric places such as Belgium and the Netherlands, to include children, people suffering depression, prisoners serving life sentences, and so on – but that, the Court was certain, could not happen here. The evidence was “anecdotal.” The “medico-legal culture” was altogether different.

And yet the Court immediately undermined its own premise. Though the decision ostensibly applied only “in the factual circumstances of this case,” i.e. to “people like Ms. Taylor” or “persons in her situation,” i.e. “wracked with pain” and near the “end of life,” by the time the Court got around to working out the general principle to be applied in such cases it had ditched any requirement that a patient’s condition be either terminal or physical; rather just “grievous and irremediable.”

Still, the decision did not preclude governments from imposing such a rule, even if the court declined to do so – if not that death be at hand, then at least “reasonably foreseeable,” in the language the Trudeau government adopted in subsequent legislation. So when a Quebec Superior Court judge ruled that provision unconstitutional in September, 2019, she was essentially freelancing.

The government had ample grounds to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Instead, it drafted legislation – Bill C-7, which it is now attempting to rush through the House of Commons in time for Christmas – that obediently accepted the Quebec court’s opinion as its own. Worse, it went further.

No longer would there be a mandatory 10-day waiting period between a request for assisted suicide and its execution, to allow for a change of heart. (According to Health Canada, 263 such requests were withdrawn in 2019.) Neither would two witnesses be required: henceforth, one would suffice.
Previous articles by Andrew Coyne:


I. Franklin said...

It is still amazing to me that people could not see this coming. The culture of death is the only thing alive and well today in Canada. True compassion for and a willingness to accompany the ill, the suffering and the dying has long since been replaced by the "progressive" notion that there is a quick fix for every ill, brought to you by technology and scientific "advancements".

Kevin Y said...

Good article. Some of us saw this coming.

Anonymous said...

We knew it was coming. Many people protested using Australia and the Netherlands as examples of this slippery slope we were sliding down. Our government swore, oh no never would that happen. Surprise , surprise, I think this just shows what kind of people we have in government. A bunch of liars with their own agenda. We may not make it to the gas chamber but I hope these people realize what they’ve done. The nazis weren’t remembered in history for there advances on eugenics, quite the opposite. I hope our government wakes up before they realize too late the monsters their becoming.

Annette said...

We are a country that doesn't bat an eye at killing when it is convenient. We have been doing it with abortion for on the list are the elderly, and those with special needs. Normalize it, give it scripted language, and keep spreading the net wider. How do we never learn from history? Or even just accept that life is sacred?