On Oct. 2, Bill C-384, the private member’s bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, is to receive its first hour of debate. It was introduced on May 13 by Bloc Québécois MP Francine Lalonde. Since then, many groups and individuals have helped the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition fight it by sending Stop Bill C-384 postcards and hand-written letters, and meeting with members of Parliament.
The number of members of Parliament who were visited or who responded to letters from constituents is truly impressive. This has given the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition enough information about the position of MPs to be able to predict that we will defeat Bill C-384.
Many MPs have still not been visited by a constituent or effectively lobbied. This is not the time to rest or relax.
Success will only happen when people from different groups and perspectives are actively involved in the campaign. We need to work even harder to convince a larger majority of MPs that they should oppose euthanasia, assisted suicide and Bill C-384. The greater the victory, the less likely that we will face a new threat of legalization after the next election. If the margin of victory is small, there is little doubt that euthanasia activists will push for another bill again soon.
To convince your member of Parliament to vote against Bill C-384, you will need to follow some key points:
1. What is euthanasia and assisted suicide?
Euthanasia is when one person directly and intentionally causes the death of another person for reasons related to suffering. It is important to note that legalizing euthanasia will give physicians the right to directly and intentionally cause your death. Euthanasia is usually done by a lethal injection.
Assisted Suicide is when one person is directly and intentionally involved with knowingly causing the death of another person. Many people confuse assisted suicide with suicide, but the circumstance is different. Suicide is when a person kills oneself, whereas assisted suicide is when another person is directly and intentionally involved in causing the death.
2. Euthanasia and assisted suicide will disproportionately affect vulnerable persons.
The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines vulnerable as “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded.” When is a person vulnerable? Human experience and social history tell us that people become more vulnerable when they are in some way devalued as persons or when they become highly dependent on others for their basic needs.
People with disabilities will often speak about their life experiences in relation to how they were treated when they were in vulnerable or dependent situations. The reality is that social systems are needed to protect people when they are vulnerable. Offering death to a person who already has been made to feel like a burden on others, or offering death to a person who is experiencing uncontrolled pain, is more likely to result in a decision of death, rather than a demand for the necessary care that should be expected for a person in need.
3. Won’t the safeguards in C-384 protect the vulnerable?
The safeguards in Bill C-384 are written in double-speak; they sound nice, but do not actually provide protection.
C-384 allows euthanasia and assisted suicide for people who are not terminally ill, but are suffering from chronic physical or mental pain. People suffering from mental pain would often be deemed incompetent to make significant life decisions, but C-384 opens the door to their dying by lethal injection (euthanasia).
C-384 also allows euthanasia and assisted suicide for people who have expressly refused appropriate treatments that are available. This means that a person with mental pain could be killed by a lethal injection (euthanasia), even though effective treatment is available to alleviate him of his distress.
C-384 bases competency on whether a person “appears to be lucid.” Therefore, the person who is experiencing mental pain can die by lethal injection (euthanasia) when he “appears to be lucid” – whether or not he truly is.
C-384 is not limited to terminally ill people, but it also doesn’t define the term terminal illness. Therefore a person could be killed by lethal injection (euthanasia) soon after learning of a terminal diagnosis. The fact is that most people experience a short-term shock when they learn of a terminal diagnosis, but soon after come to accept that their remaining life is not too bad or decide that they have unfinished business. My step-father died 28 months after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. His quality of life was excellent during most of that period.
C-384 will also allow euthanasia tourism and euthanasia killing centers. When a physician deems that a person does not qualify for euthanasia, the bill will do nothing to stop doctor shopping. In Oregon, the euthanasia lobby group Compassion & Choices facilitated 53 of 60 assisted suicide deaths by referring the person to a physician who supported assisted suicide or by counseling him in the process.
We are opposed to C-384, not only because it is written in a permissive manner, but primarily because it would allow the direct and intentional killing of the most vulnerable members of society.
We will defeat C-384, but we also need to stop the movement to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. C-384 gives you an opportunity to speak to your MP in a clear and convincing manner.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition will send you a Stop Bill C-384 information package upon request and we are distributing packages of 100 “Stop Bill C-384” postcards for $10 (plus postage). Contact the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition toll free at 1-877-439-3348 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .