Much of the debate surrounding Physician Assisted Death (PAD) was between those who believe in personal autonomy and the right to avoid unwanted suffering, and those who believe life is sacred and suffering is redemptive. Those same two groups are now trying to influence the creation of detailed legislation and regulations.
This summer, the Conservative government quietly announced that it had struck a panel of experts to consult Canadians on their views on assisted dying -- nearly six months after the Supreme Court issued its historic ruling on assisted dying. No matter that 84 per cent of Canadians support physician assisted dying, or that the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled it is a patient right. The Conservative government has consistently opposed it.
Last week the government announced the membership of the panel that will conduct the public consultation on Physician Assisted Dying. One of the questions they will have to answer are the very real concerns around how to protect vulnerable populations. People are classed as vulnerable when they are in a position of weakness relative to some other group who can wield power over them.
The importance of quality palliative care gets overshadowed by our national debate over euthanasia or medically assisted death. There is a lack of understanding about what palliative care means and how it can help to ensure that we and those we love are able to make that journey to the end of life with dignity.
Let me be clear, we want thoughtfully legislated access to assisted dying -- not a free for all. We have established a Physicians Advisory Council to ensure we have input from physicians across the country. We want to work with doctors and medical associations to support legislation that provides choices and safeguards for both patients and doctors.
As polarizing as the debate seems to be, I've never had any qualms publicly declaring that I strongly support assisted suicide. To be frank, I have trouble understanding those who don't. Numerous drunk drivers who killed behind the wheel have received such lenient sentences they amounted to no more than a slap on the wrist. But if I assisted a loved one who was dying a slow and painful death, out of compassion and a desire to end their suffering, I would be subject to the same or even worse penalties as someone who indiscriminately and unconsciously mowed down an innocent pedestrian while driving drunk. Why?
The late Godelieva De Troye, 64, of Belgium, sought euthanasia because of a breakdown from a breakup. Lucky for her, she finally found a psychiatrist who agreed with her that her depression was incurable. And off she went with her "permission to die" note. For those who say this will not happen in Canada, I say prove it.
In Canada, attending a suicide is legal; assisting a suicide is not. Suicide itself is legal in Canada, thus preventing the further injustice of charges against the many unassisted suicides that result in survival in some kind of reduced quality of life. We must legalize assisted suicide in Canada. There are two ways this can happen.