Oppose the "death with dignity" bill

Posted: June 18, 2009 in Uncategorized

Canadians are a death-denying lot. Perhaps because we are hardwired to avoid death for as long as possible, we spare no expense to make sure our corpses appear ready to leap out of the casket and we have no shortage of euphemisms to avoid saying someone is dead.

So what are we to make of Bill C-384 – “An Act to amend the Criminal Code (right to die with dignity)”? In one short page, it sets out amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada that will allow doctors to assist in the suicides of terminally ill patients who request it. With minimal safeguards against abuse, and no direction as to the means of dispatching the suicidal patient, it is chilling to think that this bill is even under consideration.

People with chronic disabilities are a growing sector of the Canadian population with a reason to be suspicious of the euthanasia crowd. The widespread sympathy expressed for Robert Latimer after he killed his severely disabled daughter, Tracy, in 1993 proves that too many able-bodied Canadians are willing to make lethal judgments about someone else’s quality of life.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the Council of Canadians with Disabilities opposes Bill C-384. While voluntary doctor-assisted suicide is not the same thing as murdering a disabled child without her consent, its passage would legitimize euthanasia and promote it as an acceptable response to illness and suffering. Over time, we can well imagine, euthanasia could come to be promoted by cash-strapped governments as a cost-efficient therapy.

Read the CCD’s news release, below. Read Bill C-384. Read the entrails of a chicken, if you must. But give it some thought and act accordingly.

While one may wish for the right to end one’s life, simply because “IT’S MY LIFE, DAMMIT!”, Bill C-384 should not be the legal vehicle for that last ride into the sunset.

Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) Opposes Bill C-384

Winnipeg—The COUNCIL OF CANADIANS WITH DISABILITIES (CCD) believes that everyone who supports disability rights should oppose Bill C-384 which would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide and put Canadians with disabilities at risk! CCD is a national human rights organization of persons with disabilities working for an accessible and inclusive Canada.

C-384, the private member’s bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada received its first reading last month. Bill C-384 was introduced by the Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament – Francine Lalonde. This is Lalonde’s third attempt to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

Bill C-384 legalizes euthanasia by amending section 222 of the Criminal Code and it legalizes assisted suicide by amending section 241 of the Criminal Code. “Called the “Right to Die with Dignity” Act, this bill threatens the lives of Canadians with disabilities. Its selling points are the notions of “dignity,” and “suffering.” However, the bill never explains what these terms mean. How do we measure dignity? What is suffering?” states Rhonda Wiebe, Co-Chair of CCD’s Ending of Life Ethics Committee. These terms are based more on social values than scientific ones, but this bill proposes that a “medical” and “legal” solution be the remedy for people whose lives are not “dignified” and who “suffer.”

“Living without dignity and suffering are common misperceptions that able-bodied Canadians have about the lives of their fellow citizens with disabilities. Bill C-384 does nothing to protect those who find themselves socially devalued in these ways,” states Dean Richert, Co-Chair of CCD’s Ending of Life Ethics Committee.

Social support and meaningful involvement in the community are more important for the well-being of people with disabilities than the severity of their disabilities. Assisted suicide is not a free choice as long as they are denied adequate healthcare, affordable personal assistance in their communities, and equal access to social structures and systems.

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