Deadly Misinformation

This piece was published by Convivium Magazine on December 21, 2016:

Now that assisted suicide and euthanasia have been decriminalized in Canada, news articles and opinion pieces are spreading incorrect information about the legal obligations and rights of the parties affected by this change in law. While the authors of these pieces are likely well intentioned and simply unaware that the information shared is misleading or wrong, it is vital that we set the record straight each time this occurs.

Read more here.

 

Protecting Patients in the Shadows of Euthanasia: 3 Recommendations

This piece was published by Convivium Magazine on October 12, 2016:

Studies have shown that means other than proper euthanasia protocols are used when doctors cannot be bothered to fill out the paperwork. In Belgium, where the legal framework is strikingly similar to Canada’s, studies have documented that up to 32% of all euthanasia procedures have been performed without the patient’s express consent.

Read more here.

What does post-Carter Canada look like?

This piece was published by Convivum Magazine in June 2016:

In Canada, access to palliative care varies from excellent to extremely poor based on where one lives yet euthanasia is now expected to be available anywhere at the first request. If our healthcare systems have an inexpensive and quick intervention option compared to a more expensive and time-consuming option like palliative care, an already overburdened healthcare system will likely gravitate towards the former.

Read more here.

Four Takeaways from the Carter v. Canada Assisted Suicide Case

Last week I wrote a short summary of the Carter v. Canada case for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s ActivateCFPL blog:

Justice Smith’s decision was appealed to the BCCA.  In a split 2-1 majority decision, the BCCA overturned Justice Smith’s decision and upheld the legal principles the SCC set out in the 1993 Rodriguez decision. In short, the BCCA found themselves and Justice Smith to be bound by the legal precedent set out in Rodriguez; that the ‘right to life’ principle is the same today as it was 20 years ago; that there is no right to be killed in Canada; and, that we can’t easily dismiss the concerns of those who believe that the legalization of assisted suicide would be damaging to our society.

Read the rest here.

A Day of Prayer and Fasting for the National Euthanasia Debate

This blog post was originally published at The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s blog, ActivateCFPL.

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada encourages its friends, affiliates and all Canadian evangelicals to join with Christians across the country for a day of prayer and fasting.

This national day of prayer is taking place on Friday, September 6th, in recognition of the Quebec government’s legislative proposal to legalize euthanasia.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are currently illegal in Canada, as both actions are proscribed in our Criminal Code as homicide. In a weakly veiled attempt to circumvent federal law, and existing Supreme Court of Canada decisions that affirm the constitutionality of the federal prohibition on these behaviours, the government of Quebec introduced legislation in June 2013 to authorize euthanasia under the guise of “health care.” Under our constitution, criminal law is federal jurisdiction, but health care is provincial jurisdiction.

When the issue was most recently presented to Members of Parliament for consideration and a vote, legalization of the practices was resoundingly rejected. In 2008, MP Francine Lalonde introduced Bill C-384 which sought to amend the Criminal Code to remove the prohibitions against euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Bill was defeated 228 to 59 in the House of Commons.

Despite the obvious issues related to proper jurisdiction, constitutionality, binding precedent and democracy, the government of Quebec has decided to push the issue forward.

Quebec’s Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, would require all hospitals and healthcare facilities (including hospices, senior citizen’s residences and similar facilities operated by Christian and other faith based organizations) to euthanize citizens possessing Quebec healthcare upon request, provided certain arguably vague criteria are met.

To obfuscate its intentions and to make the idea of euthanizing its citizens more palatable to the general public, the government plays word games in Bill 52. It defines “end of life” care as “palliative care provided to persons at the end of their lives,” which encompasses “terminal palliative sedation” and “medical aid in dying,” both of which are forms of euthanasia. 

This position is not consistent with the global palliative care movement’s understanding of palliative care.  Palliative care by definition cannot be used to end lives. The government of Quebec’s reframing of palliative care contradicts the World Health Organization’s internationally accepted definition.

The Bill’s use of the term “terminal palliative sedation” is confusing as it is not defined in the Bill. Though the term seems self-explanatory, its use is intended to make euthanasia more palatable to the public by removing the negative connotations associated with the word “euthanasia” and by adding “terminal palliative sedation” to the continuum of currently accepted medical treatment as an extension of palliative sedation, which is currently accepted and practiced for pain management.

The Bill’s clearly intended primary purpose is to establish the right to ending-of-life procedures to be administered by doctors and nurses across the province of Quebec. It does so by adding euthanasia (illegal) to the classification of palliative care (legal) in an effort to merge the two as medical care. It also uses a clever attempt at new terminology (“terminal palliative sedation” and “medical aid in dying”) in an effort to evade Criminal Code liability, as neither expression appears in the Criminal Code and thus are not explicitly prohibited.

Why is this a problem? If a person wants to die and not have their life unnecessarily prolonged, isn’t it a merciful act to end their lives?

In Canada, patients have a right to withdraw consent from treatment, and receive pain alleviating medication in order to die a natural death. Palliative sedation, which is used in cases where pain or symptoms cannot be managed by other means, is also legal.

Compassion is not killing the patient. Compassion is loving the patient, walking with them through their last days, and providing them with the care and support to ease and alleviate the pain and suffering.

In short, the decriminalization of euthanasia requires the societal acceptance of consensual killing and the establishment of a legal obligation on one party to kill another, as is seen in Bill 52. This new obligation would irrevocably change Canadian law’s life-affirming ethos. Our law would indirectly endorse murder and private killings between its citizens. And, Canadians under medical care – in hospitals, hospices and nursing homes – will have just cause to wonder whether the next step is freeing up their bed for someone healthier or better able to pay the bills – at least that’s how similar provisions have devolved in other countries.

This is a matter that concerns all Canadians, not simply those who live in Quebec. Should Quebec pass the law, and the federal government fail to intervene in order to uphold its Criminal Code prohibitions, it won’t be long before other provinces propose similar legislation.

For more information on euthanasia and assisted suicide, please visit www.theEFC.ca/euthanasia. The EFC will also be releasing a detailed analysis of Bill 52 in the coming days.

Please encourage your prayer groups and congregations to join us in prayer this Friday.

Speaker Sheer’s Ruling

A week in review…

It was another busy week  of posting at ProWomanProLife. The inquest results came back on the death of Savita Halappanavar. The hospital staff appear to have committed a number of errors while administering her care. It’s a sad story.

Susan  Martinuk wrote a great piece regarding euthanasia and assisted suicide and how our “private” choices impact others. Brian Lilley conducted an interview with Lila Rose on the ongoing Hermit Gosnell trial. (I become a little sick every time I type out his name.) Their discussion about when life begins was quite interesting.

I also linked back to a piece that Wesley J. Smith wrote about the human trafficking of embryos. Stephanie Gray challenges us all to reconsider what “mother-to-be” means and Andrea disagrees with her use of the term.

Also this week, Speaker Andrew Sheer ruled on MP Mark Warawa’s point of privilege. The short decision is a good read and confirms both the authority of the position of the Speaker and the importance of the right to free speech of Parliamentarians.

And here’s a random list of things I loved or discovered this week:

  • This cassoulet recipe from Forks Over Knives. Some friends made it for me and it’s incredible. I’m making a double batch of it today.
  • I couldn’t get this song – Bones by Michael Kiwanuka – out of my head all week.
  • I’m loving Feedly. It is a great replacement for Google Reader.
  • I discovered LastPass this week. Wow. Having a plugin that manages my passwords makes working online so much easier.

Have a great week!

The Church’s Role in the Fight Against Assisted Suicide

Parliament clearly expressed its will in 2010 when Members of Parliament voted resoundingly against a bill which sought to decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Supreme Court of Canada plainly ruled against the practices in the 1993 Rodriguez case, in which it found Parliament’s jurisdiction and legislation in this area to be sound.

Democratic process and our highest court’s findings seemingly insufficient, a B.C. lower court judge decided to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide with her 2012 Carter v. Canada decision, which is currently under appeal. The government of Quebec is now arguing that it can permit the practices as well, under its constitutional power to regulate healthcare.

As the Carter case winds its way through the appeal process, Evangelicals will be represented. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is intervening at the British Columbia Court of Appeal and has filed its written legal arguments. The EFC is arguing that the sanctity of human life is a valid Parliamentary consideration under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that ethically, morally, and legally, dying and killing are drastically different things. As stated in the factum, “There can be such as a thing as a good death. There is never such a thing as a good killing.”

The case will be heard in March. The lower court decision needs to be overturned not only to ensure the lives of Canada’s most vulnerable citizens and to prevent the abuses that have occurred in jurisdictions where these practices have been legalized, but to affirm Canada’s life respecting ethos.

Read the rest of the post here.