Recent MY Canada National Updates On This Topic:
The issues of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia have been largely debated in recent years. Bill 52 was passed in Quebec in June of 2014 making it legal in the province for doctors to help their patients commit suicide. (Click here to read our national alert about the passing of this bill). Then, in an historic move on Friday, June 17th, Canada legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada with the passing of Bill C-14.
Reasons for Debate:
Euthanasia advocates argue that suffering individuals deserve “death with dignity” by legally ending their lives with the assistance of a doctor. However, a careful examination of the history of various countries and States have shown the terrifying “slippery slope” of assisted suicide and euthanasia after becoming legal. The number of cases and instances where it is becoming permissible are expanding at shocking rates (Belgium, Netherlands, Oregon, etc.).
On the other hand, those who believe in the sanctity of human life are fundamentally opposed to legalized assisted suicide. Suffering individuals have dignity because they are human beings. These individuals can be appropriately assisted as they approach end of life with proper palliative care and emotional support. Canada is still in need of a national palliative care strategy as not all Canadians presently have access to palliative care. Furthermore, a 2016 study done by the US National Institute of Health found that loneliness was a key motivation behind 56% of euthanasia requests – so emotional support is a significant area of focus for those facing terminal illness or end-of-life.
Physician-Assisted Suicide in Canada:
In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the current laws in Canada, ruling unanimously in Carter V. Canada (AG) that the law banning assisted suicide was unconstitutional and that “mentally competent Canadians with unbearable suffering” should be allowed to end their lives with the aid of a physician and gave Parliament until June 2016 (one year plus a four-month extension) to come up with a new law.
In the meantime, the Supreme Court of Canada included an exemption for anyone wanting to ask a judge to end their life so as not to “unfairly prolong the suffering of those who meet the clear criteria.” As a result, January 15th, 2016 will go down in history as the day the first legal doctor-assisted suicide in Canada was performed, in Quebec.
Special Joint Committee
In early 2016, a joint committee on physician-assisted dying was tasked with making recommendations on the assisted suicide legislation. Pro-life groups such as Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Campaign Life Coalition were not allowed to present at all, and at the end of February 2016 the committee released its report of recommendations entitled “Medical Assistance in Dying: a Patient-Centred Approach“.
The committee’s recommendations would have ultimately swung wide the door on assisted suicide, making Canada’s assisted suicide laws among the most unlimited in the world. Upon the report’s release, committee members Michael Cooper, Mark Warawa, Gerard Deltell, and Harold Albrecht came out publicly to state that the report was not unanimous, that there was in fact a strong bias within the committee, the presentations, and the report itself, and to release a dissenting report stating the need for more safeguards protecting vulnerable Canadians.
On April 14th, 2016, the Minister of Justice’s Office tabled Bill C-14, “An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying).” The legislation appeared more restrictive in comparison to the controversial recommendations of the Parliamentary committee by denying access to assisted suicide to mature minors or people with mental health issues alone, and it did not permit advanced-requests for people with dementia.
However, the proposed legislation would still open the doors to government-sanctioned killing, at taxpayers expense, and has many other significant problems, including:
– The bill does not provide effective oversight but only requires approval for assisted suicide/euthanasia by two independent physicians, without judicial review.
– The bill provides legal immunity to “any person” who directly participates in the act.
– The bill extends beyond individuals who are terminally ill and allows access for those for whom “death has become reasonably foreseeable” (vague).
– The bill does not offer any real safeguards.
– The bill does not provide explicit conscience protection for medical professionals.
C-14 Becomes Law in Canada
On Tuesday May 31st, 2016, Members of Parliament passed Bill C-14 and voted 186 to 137 at third reading to send the bill to the Senate. It was then studied, debated, and voted on in the Senate, led by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. Soon the Senate sent the bill back to the House of Commons with a number of proposed amendments.
Bill C-14 would move back and forth between the House of Commons and the Senate before finally being agreed (or conceded) upon and passed by both. On Friday June 17th, the Senate passed the government’s amended bill and Bill C-14 received Royal Assent, becoming the official legislation on assisted suicide in Canada.
Urgent Assisted Suicide Update & 3 Day National Fast, Part 1:
Urgent Assisted Suicide Update & 3 Day National Fast, Part 2:
ARPA Canada Presents Before Justice Committee on Bill C-14:
MY Canada Director, Faytene Grasseschi, Gives Brief Update On Assisted Suicide in Canada – April 2016
MP Mark Warawa at Press Conference for Dissenting Report on Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
February 26th, 2017 – National Post – ‘Take my name off the list, I can’t do any more’: Some doctors backing out of assisted death
February 21st, 2017 – CBC – Montreal man, 55, charged with 2nd-degree murder in disabled wife’s death
October 6th, 2016 – The Star – About 200 Canadians have had a physician-assisted death since June
June 17th, 2016 – CBC News – Liberals’ assisted-dying bill is now law after clearing final hurdles
May 4th, 2016 – Globe and Mail – Liberals cut short debate on assisted-dying bill as deadline looms
April 24th, 2016 – Huffington Post – The Deadly Problems Surrounding Bill C-14
April 18th, 2016 – National Post – Andrew Coyne: Assisted suicide makes us all complicit in another’s death
April 14th, 2016 – Huffington Post – Assisted Dying Bill C-14: 5 Things To Know About Liberal Legislation
What You Can Do:
The disappointment of Bill C-14 being passed only strengthens our resolve to fight for Canada! We are resolute in our determination to be a voice for moral clarity in this nation. Thank you for continuing to partner with us in this goal by doing the following:
1) Talk about assisted suicide and Bill C-14:
Please continue to share your stance and all you’ve learned about assisted suicide with those around you. To influence one person for life ultimately influences their entire spheres as well. This is how we change a nation; One person at a time!
2) Please continue to pray that Canadians would embrace a culture of life instead of death. Pray for a revival of healing and hope from coast to coast so that people would choose life and not death – even if it is available to them! And please pray for our leaders daily.
3) May each of us commit to making the disabled, elderly and suffering feel the love of Christ; so valued and loved by us that they would want to live and not die. Let us pray and work to support compassionate care and pain management for those who are suffering or in the final stages of life.
4) Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has released a powerful documentary exposing the horrifying truth and inherent dangers surrounding the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Please order your copy of the film, the Euthanasia Deception, by clicking here. Please also consider hosting a viewing at your church or in your circle of friends.
Other Organizations Working on this Issue:
Euthanasia is the active killing of a patient by a doctor. It is not refusing treatment, or discontinuing treatment, leading to the patient dying from their illness.
Assisted Suicide is when a doctor, or another person, provides the means to end one’s life but the patient does it his/her self.
Palliative care is treatment to manage pain during the last days and weeks of life so that a patient can pass away as easily and pain free as possible from an illness or natural causes. Palliative Care manages pain when death is inevitable, Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide are active means of ending a life and fall under Canadian homicide laws.