Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 14, 2009
Suicide, euthanasia bill causes disabled man profound worry, distress
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) spokesman Stephen Passmore warned legalized euthanasia would have a dire impact on the disabled.
The 3.6 million - or one out of eight - Canadians who live with disabilities already feel unwanted, unequal and unaccepted by Canadian society, he told a Dec. 1 news conference on Parliament Hill.
He warned legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide will contribute towards those feelings of unworthiness and lead to fears they may be "terminated."
Passmore, who was born with cerebral palsy, said thousands of dollars were spent during his childhood to give him greater mobility. The attitude in the health care system was to give him everything he needed to help him be better included in Canadian society.
Under legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide, instead of health care dollars going to help someone like him be able to walk, people like him might be offered a needle, he warned.
"Once death is offered as an option, it becomes an implied suggestion," he said.
He also noted the devastating effect legalization would have on the patient-doctor relationship. "Our whole medical system is based on trust," Passmore said.
"If euthanasia and assisted suicide is legalized, as I age, will I ever be able to trust the doctors when I know this is an option?"
"I will never go into a hospital again," he said. "I'm afraid as a person who is supported by the government that it will be cheaper to kill me than to keep me."
EPC executive director Alex Schadenberg addressed the specific dangers of Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde's assisted suicide and euthanasia Bill C-384. "It's written so widely you could drive a hearse through it."
If passed, a doctor could terminate the life of a patient who "appeared to be lucid" without investigating further whether that patient was truly competent.
It also allows for the assisted suicides of individuals with chronic physical or mental pain. That means people with chronic depression could get help from a doctor to commit suicide.
"We should be focusing on how we care for people, not on how we end their lives," he said.
The bill had been scheduled for its second and last hour of debate for Dec. 1, with a vote on Dec. 2, but Lalonde has postponed the debate and vote to Feb. 2 and 3.
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