Doctor: Legalizing Assisted Suicide in Canada Will Lead to Targeting the Disabled

International   |   Alex Schadenberg   |   Oct 16, 2014   |   9:45AM   |   Ottawa, Canada

CBC has produced a series of interviews that are being aired during the Supreme Court of Canada case that is examining the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. Today, CBC aired the program: Doctor fears legal assisted suicide will lead to more deaths.

The Supreme Court of Canada is hearing the case concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide today.

The program features geriatric psychiatrist, Tim Lau and Brockville family physician Gerry Asche.

timlauThe CBC interview of Dr. Tim Lau:

A geriatric psychiatrist in Ottawa fears easing access to physician-assisted suicide will lead to a jump in deaths and leave him in a difficult position, as he strives to provide hope for his patients when there is much despair.

Lau says patients discuss suicide with him on a daily basis, adding some have asked him to help them end their lives. He said his job, as a result, becomes one of providing hope to his patients and believing in the value of life.

“I treat a lot of patients where they’ve lost many abilities and what concerns me is people seeing these patients and thinking that their life doesn’t have value. They’re often looking for someone to have hope for them,” Lau said.

“I can’t say you’re better off dead. They’re looking for something more when they see you.”

Lau referenced a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association from 2000, which stated half of people who considered the option of physician-assisted suicide later changed their minds.

He said a change in the law surrounding physician-assisted suicide, which Quebec will soon put into place, would be counterintuitive by “trying to promote life by having a law that inflicts death.”

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He referenced and supports the “slippery slope” mentality where devaluing human life will lead to continued and increased devaluing of more human life.

“You’re calling the inflicting of death as some sort of medical treatment. It would change the character of hospitals, the nature of the patient-physician relationship,” said Lau.

“It takes no skill to kill somebody, but it takes great skill and compassion to help someone who is struggling.”

Yesterday CBC featured an article on assisted suicide and people with disabilities. Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here.