It’s time for another Sue Rodriguez to bring euthanasia back before Parliament, says Senator Sharon Carstairs. “We need this on the table once again,” the Winnipeg Liberal said from Ottawa recently. “There are citizens in this country dying in great agony.” Carstairs, who sat on the Senate committee on euthanasia in 1994-95, said there are thousands of cases in Canada in which
doctors have illegally helped patients to die.
In Canada’s most well known case, Rodriguez a Victoria woman suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, committed suicide in
1994 with the help of an unnamed physician after she lost a court battle to legalize assisted suicide. “It will take more Sue Rodriguez cases before the issue hits the public eye,” said Carstairs.
But there’s no way of knowing just how common euthanasia is until federal and provincial governments guarantee anonymity and
freedom from prosecution for physicians willing to participate in a study, said Carstairs.
Carstairs is pushing for a study, recommended in her committee’s report so that Parliament can make an informed decision on
legalizing euthanasia, she said.
This fall, she will also reintroduce a bill, which died last year, that clarifies, “withholding treatment” in the Criminal Code. “It’s a grey area,” she said. “The law allows for adequate pain medication but doctors withhold it, fearful of liability.”