Legalizing Assisted Suicide is Dangerous – Just Look at Canada

Opinion   |   Alex Schadenberg   |   Jul 24, 2017   |   3:42PM   |   Ottawa, Canada

Professor and author, Kevin Yuill, has written another excellent article that Spike published on July 20, 2017 titled: Legalizing assisted suicide is dangerous – just look at Canada.

Yuill, who was born in Canada, refers to the recent Canadian experience with assisted dying to urge British citizens to reject assisted suicide.

The British court is currently dealing with the Conway case, a case that seeks to strike down the laws protecting people from assisted suicide in the UK. With reference to the recent Canadian experience, Yuill writes:

The CBC reported recently that, by the end of 2016, there had been 1,324 cases of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) in Canada – that is, assisted suicide and euthanasia. This number is likely to increase. Before the ink was dry on C-14, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association launched a court case to ‘strike down’ as unconstitutional the somewhat slippery provision that a person’s ‘natural death must be reasonably foreseeable’ to qualify for death by lethal injection.

In the weeks that followed C-14’s passage into law, the Canadian federal government announced that it would conduct research into the possibility of extending the benefits of euthanasia to people with dementia, ‘mature children’, and those with solely psychological suffering. In the case of a 77-year-old woman suffering from non-terminal osteoarthritis, the judge chided doctors who had refused euthanasia on the grounds that her disease was not terminal. He granted the woman the right to die as she was ‘almost 80’ with ‘no quality of life’. And, of course, her death was judged to be ‘reasonably foreseeable’.

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In the province of Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced that it would force doctors to either euthanise patients who wanted to die, or refer them to someone who would. Three years ago, it was a crime for doctors to kill their patients in Canada. Now, doctors could lose their licence for refusing to participate in killing their patients.

Judges and juries are generally sympathetic in tragic cases like Conway’s. But there is no need to change the law. We should take the court case in Canada, which opened a Pandora’s box, as a warning about the dangers of legalising assisted suicide. Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here.