Canadian Parliament Will Debate Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide in September

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 8, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Canadian Parliament Will Debate Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide in September

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 8
, 2009

Ottawa, Canada ( — The Canadian Parliament is scheduled to begin debating a bill that would legalize assisted suicide in September. Leading pro-life, medical and disability rights groups are working now to prepare the educational and lobbying process needed to stop the legislation.

Bloc MP Francine Lalonde introduced Bill C-384 in May that would permit assisted suicide for anyone 18 or older who is experiencing “severe physical or mental pain” and has “tried or expressly refused” treatment.

Alex Schadenberg, the head of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, tells, "The first hour of debate on Bill C-384 is tentatively scheduled for later September 2009."

"The debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide will heat up in Canada during the fall session of parliament in the same way as it has heated up in the UK during their current parliamentary debate," Schadenberg added.

He says his group is already working to educate members of Parliament and needs the help of pro-life advocates in Canada to lobby MPs against the assisted suicide measure.

"Packages have been sent out to the contacts who indicated that they will meet with their MP," he said. "It is important for us to know the position of your MP on this important bill. Please contact us if you are willing to meet with your Member of Parliament and we will send you an MP package."

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has sent out nearly 30,000 Bill C-384 Member of Parliament postcards to people who want to use them to send a short message to their MP to oppose the bill.

LifeCanada is also leading efforts to oppose the legislation.

The pro-life group previously told that the bill "would mean that a depressed 18-year-old who refused medication could ask for and receive a lethal prescription."

The bill also allows assisted suicide those who request it “while appearing to be lucid," which LifeCanada says is a problem.

"Individuals may appear to be lucid while suffering from dementia, confusion, incapacitating depression or other factors, and may be particularly vulnerable to pressure or coercion to request assisted suicide or euthanasia," the group explains.

LifeCanada says refusing or "withdrawing life-prolonging treatment when dying a natural death is not assisted suicide/euthanasia. There is nothing wrong with letting death occur naturally when treatment is no longer effective."

However, this does not include withdrawing food or fluids.

"Providing food and water is basic care that under no circumstances should be withdrawn unless the body is no longer able to absorb nutrients due to imminent death," the group adds. "’Quality of life’ considerations should never be a factor—food and water is a basic human right for every living person."

Nearly 4,000 Canadians die by suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young Canadians age 15-34.

This is Lalonde’s third attempt to legalize assisted suicide in Canada.

She first introduced Bill C-407 in June 2005 and Bill C-562 in June 2008 and Schadenberg told about the prior battles.

"Both bills were not limited to the direct and intentional killing of terminally ill persons, but also people experiencing chronic physical and mental pain," he said. "Her previous bills were falsely sold under the guise of choice and autonomy, but were really about the rules that needed to be followed for one person to intentionally and directly cause the death of another person."

Schadenberg said the third time may be a charm for Lalonde because she is number forty-two in the private members bill order of precedence. That means that, unless a national election is called, it is likely that her bill will receive a vote at second reading.

Leading pro-life advocates are concerned about the potential for a vote on the bill thanks to a vote in Washington state to make it the second to legalize assisted suicide.

Montana, another state that borders Canada, could become the third if the state Supreme Court affirms a lower court ruling allowing doctors to kill their patients.

Related web sites:
LifeCanda –
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition –

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