In this episode of Euthanasia & Disability, Amy Hasbrouck and Christian Debray discuss:
- Bill C-14 is adopted by the House of Commons
- A review of the June 1st demonstration
- A woman with MS is given “medical aid in dying”
Please note that this text is only a script and that our webcast contains additional commentary.
BILL C-14 ADOPTED BY THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
- On Tuesday, members of the House of Commons voted 186 to 137 to approve Bill C-14 to regulate euthanasia and assisted suicide,
- The final version of the bill contained few changes from the original.
- One amendment clarified that a person must meet all the eligibility criteria. As well, the definition of grievous and irremediable medical condition was clarified to require all of the elements in the definition.
- The MPs did add language recognizing the conscience rights of medical professionals, stating “ nothing in this section compels an individual to provide or assist in providing medical assistance in dying.”
- Also on the positive side, the House added a section providing that “if the person has difficulty communicating, [the doctor or nurse practitioner shall] take all necessary measures to provide a reliable means by which the person may understand the information that is provided to them and communicate their decision.
- The House did not remove the sections that allow any person to “do anything” to “help” with an assisted suicide even if they have a “reasonable but mistaken belief” about the request for assisted suicide. Nor did it close the loophole that allows an heir to fill out the request on behalf of someone who can’t complete the form independently.
- Also, the MPs reduced the “cooling off period” from 15 days to 10 days.
- Aside from protecting patients from “external pressure” the law includes no provision for a vulnerability assessment, to determine if the person’s circumstances might create an inducement to commit suicide. Nor does the House version guarantee access to palliative care or home care services.
- Senators have promised to introduce amendments to both strengthen and weaken the law. If the version voted out of the senate is not the same as that voted by the house, the Senate version will be sent back to the House for its approval. Few people expect this to be completed by the Supreme Court’s deadline.
- If the bill is not passed by June 6, it will fall to the provinces to regulate assisted suicide until a law is adopted. Only Québec has a law governing the practice of euthanasia.
JUNE 1 RALLY RECAP
- About 400 people gathered at the steps of Parliament on Wednesday at a rally to show their opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia.
- The rally was sponsored by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, the Physicians Collective against Euthanasia and Living with Dignity.
- The rally included speeches from several MPs and senators who thanked the attendees for coming, and pledged to amend Bill C-14. Among the speakers were Senator Betty Unger, Senator Tobias Enverga, and MP Harold Albrecht
- The rally featured a “die-in” where over 200 people lay down on the lawn in “body bags” to signify the casualties of the assisted suicide program. The crowd chanted “assistance to live, not to die” and “killing is not care” as the media filmed the protesters laid out on the lawn.
A WOMAN WITH MS IS ALLOWED PHYSICIAN ASSISTED DEATH
- On Monday, a Manitoba court approved the assisted suicide of an unidentified woman known in court filings as “patient # 3”.
- The woman, who has MS, is functionally a quadriplegic and uses a ventilator, as well as having uncontrolled nerve pain.
- According to court documents, the woman considered having her feeding tube removed, but decided against it.
- It’s unclear as to whether patient # 3 would qualify for assisted suicide under Bill C-14, since the person’s death must be reasonably foreseeable. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that has a long survival rate.