Canada Parliament Will Vote on Assisted Suicide Bill Next Month

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 20, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Canada Parliament Will Vote on Assisted Suicide Bill Next Month Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 20, 2005

Ottawa, Canada ( — Canadian MPs will determine next month whether their country will be the next to legalize the grisly practice of assisted suicide. Bloc MP Francine Lalonde of Quebec has proposed a measure that the Canadian Parliament will consider on October 31.

Bill C-407 will first be debated during second reading in the Commons at the end of next month and MPs will decide whether to send it to a parliamentary committee for review or to defeat it.

If approved, the bill would allow adults of sound mind who are experiencing significant pain and whose treatments have failed or those experiencing terminal illness to receive a physicians help to kill themselves.

Currently, Canadian law considers assisted suicide a homicide under criminal law.

According to the bill, a patient must make two requests to die and the requests must be more than 10 days apart. The person who engages in killing the patient must be a doctor or helped by one.

Conservative lawmaker Vic Toews said Canadians don’t back assisted suicide and he worried about discrimination against the elderly and disabled if the current law is repealed. The Liberal government is also not expected to back Lalonde’s bill since private member bills don’t normally find support from governing MPs.

Meanwhile, Ottawa’s archbishop is rallying Catholics against assisted suicide.

Archbishop Marcel Gervais’ recent annual Pro-Life Sunday message opposed euthanasia and he said that only God should decide when someone’s life ends.

Gervais warned that "the messengers of death are all around us," according to an Ottawa Sun report, and said he expected a fierce national debate in Canada over the issue.

Polling data has shown that support for assisted suicide in Canada is diminishing.

Pollara, a Canadian polling firm, conducted a survey in August 2003 that found that 49 percent of Canadians backed assisted suicide while 37 percent opposed it.

That’s down from a 1997 poll taken shortly after Robert Latimer was sentenced for killing his disabled 12-year-old daughter, Tracy, found 70 percent of Canadians said assisted suicide was allowable.

"Canadians don’t want to terminate the sick and disabled, they want to care for them," said Dr. Will Johnston of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

"There is no consensus about so-called mercy-killing." Johnston stated. "But there is definitely a public consensus for better palliative care services to relieve the suffering of dying persons. That’s where we should be focusing our attention instead of frightening sick and disabled Canadians with proposals to eliminate them."