Toronto, ON March 16, 2020 – On February 24, Canada’s Attorney General, David Lametti, introduced Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), effectively seeking the expansion of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). The new legislation brings forward a new proposal – physician assisted killing on demand.
Less than four years since its inception, the federal government seeks to increase access to assisted suicide and euthanasia by removing alleged safeguards that accompanied the original legislation. Such safeguards were intended to protect the vulnerable from ending their lives too prematurely or without proper consideration, such that any individual would have the opportunity to reflect upon the finality of this irreversible procedure.
On January 27, the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) participated in the online federal consultation process before the launch of the bill. That process was as flawed as the promised safeguards to protect the vulnerable in Canada’s growing regime of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
With Bill C-7, it will no longer be necessary for natural death to be relatively imminent or reasonably foreseeable. Any serious illness, disability, or disease considered to be incurable would qualify a Canadian eligible to be euthanized.
Moreover, this legislation eliminates the current 10-day waiting period between the patient’s request for death and the actual killing. If C-7 is passed into law, a person can be killed the same day that the request is made to a willing doctor.
In comparison, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) mandates that a mobile phone and package may be returned to the provider free of charge and without penalty within 15 days of purchase if the consumer is not happy with any aspect of the service. Up to 50 percent of the allotted minutes and data can be used. Notably, the CRTC remorse provision further allows Canadians with disabilities 30 days and 100 percent of the allotted minutes and data. Yet, in Canada, with Bill C-7, there will be less safeguards or an opportunity to reconsider for the act of ending one’s life than signing up for a cell phone plan.
Bill C-7 further allows for an advanced legal directive for assisted suicide and euthanasia so that one can request the procedure before one might become mentally incompetent to make the request directly to a physician. There is a modest 90-day waiting period proposed, with certain conditions needing to be met.
The League has been accurate with its assessment of the aggressive euthanasia regime in Canada from its onset. In 2016, in our criticism of C-14, we argued that all safeguards were illusory. We called for a “complex regulatory response”, as called for in the original Supreme Court decision in Carter, which has not come to fruition.
The nature of mental illness requires a time consuming multi-disciplinary approach. A serious waiting period is needed for a proper assessment of underlying factors, such as depression, for which modern medicine has ample methodologies for treatments. Although C-7 does not specifically call for the extension of euthanasia for mental illness, the elimination of the 10-day waiting period and the broadening of eligibility requirements renders it impossible to rule out patient depression and desperation as the basis for their decision to be killed.
Advanced requests for assisted suicide/euthanasia cannot be legally and ethically viable. It does not permit a person to change their mind. A society that permits healthy people to dictate the terms of their own deaths in advance will not embrace robust palliative options.
In 2018, the CCRL filed a submission with Health Canada in response to their public consultation “a framework for palliative care in Canada”. We decried the inadequacies of palliative care in Canada then as we do so now.
In 2015, the CCRL appeared before the federal panel studying the proposed legislation following the Carter decision. We presented these key points still relevant: 1. As stated in Catholic teaching, we oppose any form of euthanasia, mercy killing or assisted suicide. 2. The federal government needs to recognize and insist upon the adequate provision of palliative care for end of life situations. 3. The CCRL asserts the need for robust protection for the freedoms of those who decline or oppose assisted suicide/euthanasia, for reasons of conscience or religion.
Nothing has changed other than the number of Canadians being killed via euthanasia, which increases on a year over year basis. Bill C-7 will only increase Canada’s standing as a nation that chooses premature death by physician over a palliative care approach that respects the inherent sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Civil Rights League asks its supporters and friends to contact their Member of Parliament to voice their disapproval of C-7 and to call for a greater commitment to palliative care in Canada.
About the CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
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