Yesterday’s top news story around the country featured an impassioned plea of Dr. Donald Low who posthumously called on Canadians to advocate for assisted suicide. Low was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer seven months ago and he died on September 18th.
There is no question that the video pulls at your heart strings but Low’s message is extremely dangerous. Is it wise to pass laws without considering the unintended consequences?
It is natural to be concerned about how our friends and family will receive care should they become ill. People want to be treated with dignity and equality. They want to feel safe when they are not in a position to advocate for themselves.
But do we really understand what is at stake if we legalize doctor assisted suicide and euthanasia?
We recommend the following resource, Protecting People from Assised Suicide & Euthanasia, produced by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition to better understand the issue. Contact us if you would like a copy.
Here are a some key points:
- Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide is not withholding and withdrawal of medical treatment.
- Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide is not the proper use of analgesics to kill pain, even in large doses.
- Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide is not the proper use of sedation techniques to eliminate intractable pain.
Legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide would give physicians or others the right to directly and intentionally cause death. Do you want your physician to be given the power to cause your death?
Opinion polls indicate that the majority of those who support the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide would want it limited to rare circumstances.
Society needs to protect its citizens, especially in their time of need. Vulnerable people become highly dependent on others and their dependency creates a need to be protected.
An example is elder abuse. Government statistics indicate that 70% of elder abusers are people who the abused is dependent upon. Elder abuse is not limited to financial and social abuse but includes physical and sexual abuse and even homicide.2
Society has not effectively protected its elder citizens from abuse and it will not be able to protect its vulnerable citizens from euthanasia or assisted suicide without consent.
Another example is the experience of legal euthanasia in Belgium. A study that was published in 2010 found that 32% of the euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were done without request or consent.3
A pro-euthanasia oncologist in the Netherlands, where euthanasia is legal, published a study on depression and euthanasia. She found that people who were depressed or had feelings of extreme hopelessness were 4.1 times more likely to request euthanasia and stated that depression is a primary risk factor for requests for euthanasia.4
Another study concerning the practice of euthanasia in Belgium, published in 2010, found that only 52.8% of all euthanasia deaths were reported. The study indicated that under-reporting was often linked to questionable deaths.5
Legalizing Euthanasia and assisted suicide is not necessary.
1. Montreal Gazette – March 27, 2012.
2. Government of Canada – http://www.seniors.gc.ca/h.4m.2@.jsp?lang=eng.
3. Canadian Medical Association Journal – May, 2010.
4. Journal of Clinical Oncology – September 20, 2005.
5. British Medical Association Journal – October 2010.