Canada Euthanasia Advocate Launches Debate on Legalizing Assisted Suicide

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Canada Euthanasia Advocate Launches Debate on Legalizing Assisted Suicide

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 18
, 2010

Ottawa, Canada ( — Bloc Québécois MP Francine Lalonde launched the debate on Bill C-384 this week, her measure to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. The first-hour of debate took place on Tuesday again after Lalonde introduced her bill previously this time last year.

It had its first-hour of debate on October 2, 2009 and it was scheduled for its second-hour of debate for November 16, 2009.

Although she mentioned her fight with cancer the first time around, Lalonde did not do so this time.

"Helping someone to die gently and without pain, can we call this murder? Many would say ‘no.’ And that’s what I say," said Lalonde this week, according to the Toronto Star.

"People who are going through a painful terminal phase, we should not refuse them the right to die with dignity," she added, saying her bill would allow terminally ill patients the right to "decide for themselves the time of death."

However, other MPs immediately criticized the bill, which did not get as much support in the House of Commons as expected.

"Contrary to her intentions, this bill will allow doctors to provide a patient with a lethal injection, making many Canadians vulnerable to premature death," said Conservative MP James Lunney, the Star indicated.

Conservative MP David Sweet warned of "unmanageable consequences" — adding "At what point on this slippery slope do we stop?"

Because her measure is a private member’s bill, political observers don’t give it much chance of becoming law. But Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition says opponents of assisted suicide should write their MPs anyway.

He said Lalonde’s strategy was to create confusion concerning Bill C-384, euthanasia and assisted suicide and pressure Members of Parliament (MP) to pass the bill at second reading and amend it in committee.

"Lalonde began her speech in parliament by enunciating her strategy to pressure MP’s to support Bill C-384 at second-reading and to amend it in committee," he said.

Lalonde stated: “I think that studying my bill in committee and passing it after consideration and amendments would at last rid us of the criminal nature of physician-assisted dying by euthanasia or assisted suicide.”

But Schadenberg says C-384 is fatally flawed

"Bill C-384 legalizes lethal injection for people who suffer chronic physical and mental pain even when the condition is treatable," he says. "Bill C-384 is not limited to competent people. It legalizes lethal injection for people who “appear to be lucid”. You are not required to be lucid only to appear to be lucid."

"Remember: C-384 gives medical practitioners the right to directly and intentionally cause the death of their patients, if the patient ‘appears to be lucid,’ and is suffering chronic physical or mental pain or is terminally ill," he explained. "That means that a person who is not terminally ill but ‘appears to be lucid’ and is living with chronic depression can be directly and intentionally killed by a medical practitioner."

A recent poll conducted by the polling firm Environics for a Canadian pro-life group shows residents of Canada support legalizing assisted suicide, but do so with considerable reservations. The poll finds 61% said they favored legalization if a patient consents but large majorities also have concerns.

Related web sites:
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition –

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