Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 3, 2010
House of Commons defeats euthanasia bill
Private member's bill goes down for third time
WCANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Canada's members of Parliament have rejected assisted suicide and euthanasia by a huge majority.
Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde's private member's Bill C-384 went down to a resounding defeat April 21 by a vote of 228 to 59.
All save one Bloc Quebecois MPs supported the motion; while all the Conservatives present, including the prime minister, voted against it.
Most Liberal and NDP MPs also voted against the bill, including NDP Leader Jack Layton. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was not in the House for the vote, but told journalists earlier he did not support it.
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director Alex Schadenberg applauded the result, which prevents the bill from going to committee for further study.
Schadenberg welcomed continued debate, however, on how Canada can improve its care of vulnerable sick, elderly and disabled people. "We know a lot of people have fear around end of life issues."
Shortly before the vote, a group of MPs announced the formation of a new parliamentary committee to look at the deficiencies in Canada's palliative care network.
The parliamentary committee will also examine Canada's treatment of the elderly, the disabled and the mentally ill.
An hour of debate on the bill April 20 featured emotional appeals from both sides.
Liberal MP Michael Savage choked up with emotion as he recounted how his parents both died of cancer within six weeks of each other. He and his six siblings did all they could to help so both could die at home, surrounded by family.
"It is hard for anybody who has seen people they love die, like so many have, and not be impacted by that," he said, adding that he cherished the opportunity to be with them during that time.
"They both fought cancer with great courage and neither one of them were people to give up without a fight," he said. "They felt entirely in control, not only at the end of their life but in control of their death."
Both his parents made a decision to stop eating as their death neared, he said. His father knew he was ready to die.
Savage, the Liberal human resources critic, said his parents' death has outlined the need for good home and palliative care services for all Canadians.
Lalonde wrapped up the debate with an appeal for autonomy. "It is the individual who must choose," she said. "It is not society that must choose for the individual."
Only about 20 MPs remained in the House of Commons for the debate. A small cluster of supporters sat near Lalonde and applauded after she spoke.
Bill C-384 was Lalonde's third attempt to bring euthanasia and assisted-suicide legislation before the House of Commons, but the first time it reached a vote.
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