In 1976 capital punishment was removed from the Canadian Criminal Code and in 1998 the Canadian National Defence Act was changed to remove the death penalty. If we do not condone government sanctioning of taking the life of the most evil amongst us, why should we condone government intervention in taking the life of the sick, the weak and the most vulnerable?
Quebec is planning to use tax-payer money to legally kill its citizens: assisted-suicide and euthanasia. Recently, in the National Post, Matt Gurney shared his compassion toward people like Gloria Taylor and Susan Griffiths who want help ending their lives. His feelings are admirable; his solution -- sanctioning the government to help kill its own citizens -- is not.
We strive to develop mental health care programs to prevent suicide. Unfortunately, many end their lives despite our best efforts. They devise a plan. They find a way. We mourn their loss. We regret not having prevented their death. But unassisted suicide is still preferable to involving another person in the life-ending act. And this is true even in the case of the terminally ill. That may sound mean spirited, but I suggest that asking me to take your life through government legislation is just as mean-spirited.
Besides, what makes us believe that we will not follow the same path with assisted suicide and euthanasia as we have with abortion where the rules changed, became more lax over time? There was a time when abortion was regulated. Then the laws devolved into unfettered, unregulated abortion. Now there is no law regarding abortion in Canada. If a woman feels that having another child would be a burden, then she has the right to abort. We have sex-selective abortion. There are supposed to be regulations in place to prevent it but it still continues. When I wrote about that on Huffington Post I received this response: "Well, if the woman doesn't want a girl, why should she be forced to have a girl?"
I was appalled by what seemed to be a total lack of respect for human life -- as if we were discussing cushions. And why not? We have reached a point in our culture where talking about ending a life comes easy. But what if the mother wanted the girl and the family pushed her into an abortion because boys are more valued in their culture? How does one put in safeguards for that?
China's one child policy led to an increase in abortion and infanticide of girl babies. India, in an attempt to reduce population instituted a two child policy that has led to "voluntary" sterilization. Yet, sterilization has affected-or afflicted- the weakest of the people in India, the ones with no voice, when quotas for the number of sterilizations per month need to be met. Good intentions have a habit of going awry.
Our elderly are already at risk. They fall prey to unscrupulous people who talk their way into their lives and manage to deplete them of all their savings. What if mommy becomes a burden to her family, like another child? Gurney writes that legislation would be put into place that forces the patient to "confirm verbally and in writing, on multiple witnessed occasions, their desire to die." What makes us believe that a child or caregiver could not convince someone to end their life to the point that "the patient" will answer all the questions correctly that are put to them and then, when "all checks out, their life would end"? What makes us so sure that we cannot bully our elderly into ending their lives?
If the patient is well enough and strong enough to confirm in writing and verbally their intention, then why can they not take their own life? Why must others be involved?
There is a marked difference between making it possible to take one's own life and actively participating in it. Because we abhor suicide we have all kinds of programs established to reach out to those who wish to take their own life. There is a cognitive dissonance at play when we now ask our own government, through legislation, to participate in ending life. And then to label it "health care" is Orwellian.
History has a nasty habit of repeating itself because, like Machiavelli wrote so long ago, rather than see what is before our eyes, what is real, we choose to act on wishes and hopes. It is ultimate hubris to believe that we can place limits on ourselves once the floodgates of assisted-suicide and euthanasia are open. Remember Belgium? We must not go backward. We must not give our government, provincial or federal, the right to participate in ending the life of one of our citizens, again.
Here's a look at the state of Euthanasia laws in Canada and their history.
Suicide hasn't been a crime in Canada since 1972. (Shutterstock)
Doctor-assisted suicide is illegal, although the ruling of the B.C. Supreme Court will force Parliament to alter the law within one year. The Criminal Code of Canada states in section 241 that: "Every one who (a) counsels a person to commit suicide, or (b) aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years." (Alamy)
Passive euthanasia involves letting a patient die instead of prolonging life with medical measures. Passive euthanasia is legal in Canada. The decision is left in the hands of family or a designated proxy. Written wishes, including those found in living wills, do not have to be followed by family or a proxy. (Alamy)
Sue Rodriguez, who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), launched a case asking the Supreme Court of Canada to allow her to end her own life on the grounds that the current law discriminated against her disability. Because suicide is legal in Canada and Rodriguez was unable to end her life because of a lack of mobility, she argued it was discriminatory to prevent her from ending her own life with the aid of another. The court refused her request in 1993, but one year later she ended her life anyway with the help of an unnamed doctor. (CP)
Robert Latimer was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1993 death of his severely disabled daughter Tracy. A lack of oxygen during Tracy's birth led to cerebral palsy and serious mental and physical disabilities, including seizures and the inability to walk or talk. Her father ended Tracy's life by placing her in his truck and connecting a hose to the vehicle's exhaust.The case led to a heated debate over euthanasia in Canada and two Supreme Court challenges. Latimer was granted day parole in 2008 and full parole in 2010. (CP)
Former Bloc Québécois MP Francine Lalonde tried repeatedly to get legislation legalizing euthanasia in Canada passed. Bill C-407 and Bill C-384 were both aimed at making assisted suicide legal. C-384 was defeated in the House 228 to 59, with many Bloc MPs and a handful of members from all other parties voting for the legislation. Tetraplegic Tory MP Steven Fletcher, pictured, made the following statement after C-384 was defeated: "I would like to be recorded as abstaining on this bill. The reason is I believe end of life issues need to be debated more in our country. I believe that life should be the first choice but not the only choice and that we have to ensure that resources and supports are provided to Canadians so that choice is free. I believe, when all is said and done, the individual is ultimately responsible. I want to make this decision for myself, and if I cannot, I want my family to make the decision. I believe most Canadians, or many Canadians, feel the same. As William Henley said in his poem Invictus, "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."(CP)
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