13 Nov Physician Assisted Suicide Up for Debate in Canada
The Canadian Parliament is currently considering a bill to legalize euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Bill C-384, proposed by Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde, would alter the criminal code to allow doctors to cause quick and painless death if a patient “appears lucid,” is aware of other treatment options and has made two written requests. As a private member’s bill, C-384 already received one hour of debate on October 2 and is scheduled for a second debate on December 2 with a vote the following day.
Passage of the bill is highly uncertain but proponents cite polls indicating strong public support of euthanasia as indication that it should pass. Some polls have indicated that as many as 60 to 70 percent of Canadians support the legalization of euthanasia, but that number was considerably lower for Canadians over the age of 60 at only 36%.
Yet, as Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition points out, “C-384 is not about creating end-of-life choices for the terminally ill. C-384 gives medical practitioners the right to directly and intentionally cause the death of another person.”
“The bill allows euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with chronic physical or mental pain,” Schadenberg explains. “The bill allows euthanasia and assisted suicide for someone who requested it, while ‘appearing to be lucid.’ Appearing to be lucid does not mean the person is lucid. How can a person who lives with chronic depression who ‘appears to be lucid’ make a free choice?”