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.