Legalized assisted suicide increases total suicide rates

This piece was published in the Montreal Gazette on May 13, 2016:

Under Bill C-14, people in Attawapiskat who meet the criteria provided in Bill C-14 will be able to request suicide assistance and end their lives. The argument may be made that few of those suicidal in Attawapiskat would qualify for assisted suicide or euthanasia under Bill C-14. However, as the study in the October edition of the Southern Medical Journal demonstrates, general suicide rates increase, not decrease, after legalization. Overall, there has been an average of a 6.3 per cent increase in suicides (assisted and unassisted) among the states where assisted suicide was legalized.

Read more here.

New Brunswick’s Morgentaler Clinic and Abortion “Choice”

We Need a Law published my most recent article on the confusion reigning within the pro-choice movement over the closure of the New Brunswick Morgentaler abortion clinic:

Farquhar is brazen in claiming that the New Brunswick government is in clear violation of the Act. I can’t imagine any lawyer worth their salt making that kind of legal assessment. In fact, Health Canada even states that it’s up to each province to determine for itself which procedures are considered medically necessary.

Even the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada states that the determination of whether a procedure should be deemed “medically necessary” is “a matter of professional medical judgment, based on the patient’s particular circumstances and needs.” Heck, that almost sounds like New Brunswick’s policy – two physicians assessing each patient individually, on a case by case basis, in accordance with their professional judgment.

Those who lament the closing of this abortion clinic call themselves “pro-choice.” Indeed, “choice” is the governing principle of their movement. “My body, my choice” is the best known slogan. Perhaps they do not realize the conundrum. For if abortion is truly a personal choice, how on earth can it also be medically necessary?

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.

When the Abortion Debate is Shut Down

I wrote a sidebar article for the latest issue of FaithToday, entitled ‘When Debate is Shut Down in Canada’s Highest Places:

I disagree. The abortion debate never ended. As a nation we have not stopped talking about it or debating the merits of legislation. There are a large number of MPs in Parliament, as well as innumerably more Canadians, open to the discussion. I know, because I have sat down with pro-life and pro-choice MPs and have participated in those conversations.

The issue’s cover story is about the difficulty of debating abortion in Canada. Interviewed for the piece were some friendly faces including CCBR’s Stephanie Gray, former speech writer for Prime Minister Stephen Harper Paul Malvern, and the IMFC’s Andrea Mrozek. The digital issue is available for free online, so you can check out the article.

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!

Normalizing Infanticide and the Gosnell Trial

A week in review…

I spent much of this week working on a major project, so I didn’t write any op-eds or blog posts for ActivateCFPL. But it was a busy week for posting at ProWomanProLife.

I commented on a Mississsauga pro-choice demonstration where it appears that the protestors were demanding the right to infanticide. In that same vein, I linked to an article where the writer predicts how society will come to accept infanticide, as it has abortion. Much of what he discusses is already taking place.

That was followed up by some coverage of the horrifying Kermit Gosnell trial. Kermit Gosnell, a 72 year old abortionist, is facing a number of charges, including murder charges for having killed seven newborns by “snipping” their necks with scissors. Fr. Frank Pavone noted that there were few people at the hearings despite the explosive testimony, while Robert P. George of Princeton made a plea for mercy for Gosnell.

I also linked to a thoughtful piece by Ann Voskamp. She posted an open letter to her son in which she discusses abortion and Gosnell.

It was also this week that MP Mark Warawa decided not to appeal the House of Commons committee decision to quash his motion, M-408, which sought a declaration by Parliament condemning discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective abortions. I noted that his point of privilege, as raised with the Speaker, will likely proceed.

I also came across an interesting article in this week’s Canadian Business that examines new research demonstrating that China’s One Child Policy results in fewer children who possess entrepreneurial skill sets.

Media Coverage on Sex-Selective Abortions

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last week posting at ProWomanProLife about MP Mark Warawa’s motion M-408, which sought an opportunity for Parliament to condemn sex-selective abortions, an abhorrent practice.

Despite the incredible disappointment most of us in the pro-life movement feel in face of Parliament’s shocking treatment of this motion, Andrea, Rebecca Richmond and I took some time to smile and show off some new Defendgirls.ca t-shirts.

Andrea Mrozek, Faye Sonier, Rebecca Richmond

Some of my reaction, while wearing my EFC hat, was covered the US’s LifeNews, and Canada’s Catholic Register , The B.C. Catholic, and LifeSiteNews. A few of my statements from the LifeNews article:

The decision made today to declare Motion M-408 as non-votable by Parliament is lamentable,” explains Faye Sonier, Legal Counsel with The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

Sonier told LifeNews: “The motion calling on Parliament to condemn the practice of sex-selection pregnancy termination was simple, straight-forward and non-confrontational. As a lawyer who follows Parliamentary business, I was quite surprised that the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business unanimously found that the motion didn’t satisfy the votability criteria for private members’ bills.

What a mess of a situation. We’ll have to see what Mr. Warawa chooses to do next.

Media Coverage on Manitoba’s Bill 18

I did a few interviews this week regarding Manitoba’s Bill 18. The EFC released an updated version of its report on Canadian bullying statistics and trends. You can download it here for free if you’re interested. It’s a great document. There’s nothing else like it available in Canada at this point.

I did a radio interview with Richard Clouthier at CJOB 680 AM first thing Wednesday morning. A couple of my statements were captured in a short article on their website.

I also did an interview with Bruce Owen at the Winnipeg Free Press. The interview can be found here. Here are a few of my quotes:

The EFC says one survey showed body image alone accounted for 38 per cent of cases of bullying; grades or marks accounted for 17 per cent; and cultural background for 11 per cent.

EFC lawyer Faye Sonier said based on that, Manitoba’s Bill 18 does not fully recognize those types of bullying.

Sonier said Bill 18 instead says school must accommodate pupils who want to establish and lead activities and organizations that promote gender equity, anti-racism, disabilities and gay-straight alliances.

“You have to ask yourself why then is the province focusing on these four clubs or showing more concern for them than the student who is bullied because of the way he looks,” Sonier said.

“This can be interpreted as government expressing concern for some student over others.”

Sonier said for Bill 18 to be more equitable, it has to be reworded to include anti-bullying clubs.

“Parents and teachers can tailor the clubs to the circumstances their schools and communities face,” she said.

Some of my comments also appeared in the Winnipeg Sun, alongside statements from EFC’s Don Hutchinson:

Faye Sonier, EFC legal counsel, said the study also revealed that children themselves want to stop bullying: 88% called it “a major problem in their school.”

The EFC study also asked adults about the long-term effects of all types of bullying: 30% said they suffered lasting and harmful effects, and 84% said it should be considered a crime.

“This is very distinct from the anti-bullying legislation currently before the Manitoba legislature, which would only amend The Public Schools Act and address bullying behaviours that take place in schools,” Sonier said.

Don and I also had comments appear in a LifeSiteNews article as well.

How Bonokoski Got it All Wrong on the ‘Bushwhacking’ MPs Story

In Saturday’s Bushwhackers embarrass PM piece, Sun Media’s National Editorial Writer Mark Bonokoski proves that you don’t need facts to write an opinion article.

He labels three Members of Parliament, Maurice Vellacott, Leon Benoit and Wladyslaw Lizon “obviously stupid bushwhackers” for having asked the RCMP to investigate late-term abortions as homicides. Had they done so, I would have been the first to tell them that their efforts were a waste of time given the state of the law in Canada. Abortion is legal through all nine months of pregnancy in our fair country.

But that’s not what they did. The MPs asked the RCMP to investigate 491 cases of possible homicide. Between 2000 and 2009, 491 newborns survived attempted abortions and subsequently died after birth. We don’t know how they died, but they did. According to the Criminal Code, the same one Bonokoski alludes to reading, when human beings are born they are considered human beings in law. And when human beings are killed or neglected to death, we expect the police to investigate.

Read the rest of the post here.