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WCR EDITORIAL

February 25, 2016

The parliamentary committee on assisted suicide and euthanasia has called for the gates to those ways of being put to sleep to be opened as wide as currently possible in Canadian society. If Parliament accepts the committee recommendations, it will put Canada on a slippery slope to the day when the supposed right to assisted suicide becomes an obligation.

Even without the slippery slope, the committee report is a horrible, odious, reprehensible call for slaying human dignity. It recommends not that suffering people on the verge of death should be able to hasten an inevitable result, but that anyone with an “irremediable medical condition that causes enduring suffering” should receive state-sponsored help to kill themselves.

Further, doctors and health-care institutions whose consciences cannot abide killing the suffering are out of luck. Doctors who respect human life will be forced to refer patients to doctors who don’t. Hospitals that refuse to kill the suffering will lose government funding.

The committee cloaks its reasoning with the camouflage of “choice” and personal autonomy. But what choice do people and institutions of conscience have? None. They will be dragooned into the clinically clean but morally messy job of murder.

As for children, their day is three years down the road. The government will do “a study” of the “concept” of “competent mature minors” before establishing procedures for sick teens to kill themselves. Have fun studying your concept. If this “study” is as negligent in examining the actual record of countries where assisted suicide is legal as was the parliamentary committee, our kids and grandkids will be on desolation row.

Indigenous Canadians should also watch their backs. The committee wants to ensure “that culturally and spiritually appropriate end-of-life care services, including palliative care, are available to indigenous patients.”

Sounds good, hunh? Yet, while the residential school trauma still reverberates among Aboriginal people, the government has lucked into a politically palatable means of dealing with its Indian problem. Now, the population of sick Indians can be culled in “culturally appropriate” ways.

The report pays lip service to providing better palliative care. Of course, it had to do that to have any legitimacy. If, in fact, the recommendations of all the parliamentary committees on palliative care had been implemented, we might not be on this forced march to euthanasia.

Nobody truly wants to suffer and die. We would all rather live happily ever after. But given the inevitable, palliative care offers a way for death to be comfortable and in the company of loved ones. It does not eliminate the burden of dying, but allows it to occur in a humane, dignified way.

Unfortunately, human dignity was the furthest thing from the parliamentary committee’s report, and Canadians may long reap the whirlwind.