Taking a mere exception to a murder charge and spinning it as a right to be euthanized everywhere and anywhere in Canada is audacious but transparently political. The euthanasia lobby, flushed with its recent success, wants a monopoly on power, and a health care monoculture that sweeps away all opposition.
Publicly-funded hospitals are not constituted "primarily for religious purposes." All Ontario hospitals, Catholic and others, exist to deliver medically necessary services, and all are funded by provinces for that purpose. All hospitals offer the aid and support of religious counsel to families that request it. All hospitals have quiet spaces for reflection and prayer.
It is not surprising that many Canadians are concerned about the dangers of the new assisted suicide and euthanasia bill, C-14. What is really not credible is how the word-benders who used the Charter "right to life" to legalize the intentional suicide or killing of some patients are now protesting that they have been cheated of total victory.
If physician-hastened death is part of the continuum of medicine, then we must treat it as such. Like any other new treatment or clinical innovation, it demands careful evaluation and methodological rigor, including fixed eligibility criteria, detailed data collection, objective monitoring of outcomes and tracking of adverse effects; the ability to analyze cumulative data, with incremental ramping up entirely based on preceding trial outcomes. We would insist on no less stringency for anything else.
In any assisted-dying regime, a competent patient is free to change their mind or express their ambivalence by withdrawing a request or postponing an assisted death. To permit an assisted death to proceed on the basis of an advance directive effectively denies this protection to persons who are no longer capable of making or expressing health-care decisions.
The Parliament's Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Death, nevertheless, urged the federal government not to exclude individuals with psychiatric conditions from being considered eligible. Their reasoning comes down to this: Mental suffering is no less profound than physical suffering, so denying individuals with mental illness access to physician hastened death would be discriminatory and a violation of their Charter rights. It's an excellent point, and one worth seriously discussing.
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.