The Canadian government is expected to introduce euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation tomorrow. Yesterday, CTV news interviewed Alex Schadenberg, the Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. (Link to the interview).
CTV news reported Schadenberg as saying:
“I’m concerned that (the government) is going to follow the similar model that exists in Belgium and the Netherlands where the whole system is designed by two doctors agreeing,” Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition told CTV News Channel.
Schadenberg said he and others concerned about the upcoming legislation want to see a third party involved in the assisted dying process, either in the form of a committee of medical professionals or a judge’s ruling in each case.
“We’re talking about life and death here,” he said. “So, when someone’s life is ended, we’d better be pretty sure that they were following at least a prescription and the law.”
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The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition opposes legalizing euthanasia. Legalizing euthanasia will give doctors, the right in law, to lethally inject their patients. No one should ever be given the legal power to cause the death of another person.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) opposes giving anyone, the power in law, to cause the death of another person. We oppose any form of euthanasia and assisted suicide. In all jurisdictions where assisted death is legal, the laws lack effective oversight stated Alex Schadenberg, EPC executive director. Even the need for consent from the patient may often be ignored.
A study concerning assisted deaths in Belgium published in the NEJM (March 2015) found that more than 1000 deaths were intentionally hastened without request in the Flanders region of Belgium in 2013. The same study determined that many assisted deaths were not reported.
EPC legal counsel, Hugh Scher, urges the government to ensure effective oversight of the law.
Prior approval by the court or an expert panel is essential to any assisted suicide regime that Parliament introduces. It is the only way to ensure compliance with legislative criteria established to identify vulnerability and prevent abuse of the law before people are put to death.
EPC VP Amy Hasbrouck, a lawyer and disability leader, works in coalition with many groups.
Effective oversight based on a court approved or expert panel is endorsed by multiple stakeholders across the country including from the disability community, the medical community and legal experts.
Dr. Will Johnston, EPC – BC Chair stated that Euthanasia is not a form of health care.
Defining euthanasia as health care would mean that lethal injections become a form of medical treatment. Not only is this an Orwellian concept, but may leave Canadians without a safe space within the healthcare system.
Dr Johnston continued:
Forcing doctors to participate in killing their patients is paternalistic. To require doctors to refer patients to a doctor who will lethally inject them undermines conscience rights and my oath that I will “Do No Harm.”
EPC urges the government to protect people at the most vulnerable time of life.