Introduction

Webcast archive: Parliamentary events

This week, we discuss some events we recently participated in on Parliament Hill.

Webcast archive: Parliamentary events

In this episode of Euthanasia & Disability, Amy Hasbrouck and Christian Debray discuss:

  • A Parliamentary luncheon & press conference
  • Palliative care
  • Two more assisted suicide bills die in the U.S.
  • Contact your MPs

Please note that this text is only a script and that our webcast contains additional commentary.

PARLIAMENTARY LUNCHEON AND PRESS CONFERENCE

  • This week, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet presented a press conference and Parliamentary luncheon in Ottawa on March 8.
  • At the press conference, we spoke about the need to alert members of parliament to the pitfalls contained in the report of the special joint committee on physician aid in dying, and to draw attention to the Vulnerable Persons Standard, which we believe is an effective solution to those problems.
  • Speakers called on Parliament to:
    • Adopt the Vulnerable Persons Standard and require a vulnerability assessment so that no person is influenced or coerced to accept assisted suicide due to psychosocial or economic pressures, inadequate medical or palliative care, or discrimination or devaluation;
    • Enact effective procedural safeguards before the fact, such as an eligibility determination verified by a judge or administrative panel;
    • Return to the original intent of easing the lives of terminally-ill Canadians who are incapable of committing suicide without assistance;
    • Reject the headlong rush to allow assisted suicide for adolescents and via advance directives;
    • Respect the conscience rights or individual medical professionals as well as health care institutions to refuse to kill their patients;
    • Reject assisted dying as a form of medical care;
    • Ensure that all Canadians have timely access to effective palliative and home-care services to enable them to control where and how they live and die.
  • Hugh Scher, counsel for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, spoke of the need for before-the-fact oversight; approval by a judge or expert panel in order for euthanasia or assisted suicide is granted.
  • He also spoke of the importance for transparency of stating on the death certificate that euthanasia or assisted suicide is the cause of death in these cases.
  • Speakers at the Parliamentary luncheon included
    • David Baker, Attorney for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities
    • Dr. Catherine Ferrier, Physicians Against Euthanasia,
    • Aubert Martin, Executive Director, Living with Dignity / Vivre dans la Dignite
    • Dr. Roger Ghoche, a palliative care physician.

WHAT IS PALLIATIVE CARE AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT

  • The Carter case said people had a right to assisted suicide, but nothing about palliative care.
  • The recommendations of the special joint committee proposed a secretariat and a major bureaucracy, but still didn’t guarantee palliative care to all Canadians.
  • The Vulnerable Persons Standard calls for each person to have access to palliative care.
  • We know that only about 30% of Canadians have access to it, but what is it?
  • According to the World Health Organization, palliative care is an range of treatments that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems. Palliative care:
    • provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
    • affirms life and regards dying as a normal process;
    • intends neither to hasten or postpone death;
    • integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care;
    • offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death;
    • offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement;
    • uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated;
    • enhances the quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness;
    • is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications.
  • Palliative care can be delivered in a hospital, in a hospice, or at home.
  • It is not only for people who are dying, but for any person who lives with chronic pain and the difficulties that come along with it.
  • It is a relatively new field of medicine, being established in the 1970s by physicians such as Dr. Balfour Mount of McGill University in Montréal.
  • Palliative care centres are facing a conflict because of the legalization of assisted suicide, which runs counter to the philosophy of neither hastening nor delaying a natural death.
  • Most palliative care doctors believe that assisted suicide is unnecessary; that holistic palliative care can effectively deal with the physical and psychosocial reasons people ask for assisted suicide.  That’s why most palliative care doctors oppose assisted suicide and euthanasia.
  • For more information about palliative care, visit the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association on the web at http://www.chpca.net/.

TWO MORE ASSISTED SUICIDE BILLS DIE IN THE U.S.

  • Assisted suicide bills have been defeated in two additional U.S. States.
  • A bill in Hawaii was not heard by the Senate committee.
  • A bill in Nebraska was defeated after a tie vote in Committee.

CONTACT YOUR MPs

  • We’re still encouraging you to contact your MP.  Visit the parliament’s website at http://parl.gc.ca for phone numbers or email information, or send a free letter to your MP (no stamp necessary) at:
[Name of Member of Parliament] House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1A 0A6