In September, in a case known as Truchon v Canada, Quebec Superior Court Justice Christine Baudouin declared parts of both the federal and provincial laws on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) unconstitutional.
Her judgement struck down the requirement in Canada’s euthanasia laws that death be reasonably foreseeable before euthanasia could take place.
On Monday, the Canadian government responded by introducing revisions to the Criminal Code which go even further than required by the Truchon decision.
The preamble of the Bill on euthanasia extension recognizes the importance of protecting vulnerable persons from being induced to end their lives — but it does nothing to support that laudable goal.
In fact, many of the safeguards initially written into the euthanasia regime have been removed and vulnerable people will increasingly be placed at risk. This bill erodes the trust that vulnerable people should be able to have in the medical profession.
Of concern is the fact that there is no longer a waiting period. You can be diagnosed, assessed and killed all in one day.
Independent oversight has been reduced. Now only one signature is required and the people taking care of you can be your ‘independent’ witness.
Even if an individual attempts to withdraw their consent, there is no mechanism to ensure their wishes are respected. In fact, there is an exemption that allows the characterization of non-verbal withdrawal of consent as a reaction to touch, allowing euthanasia to proceed unhindered.
Pro-MAiD healthcare providers are not waiting for people to raise the possibility of MAiD – in actual fact they are encouraging individuals to pursue this option. They have blown a hole through section 241 of the Criminal Code which makes it an offense to counsel a person to commit suicide.
We are all vulnerable when we are sick, alone or at the end of our lives. It is when we are most vulnerable that we need our medical professionals to walk with us.
This Bill does not contemplate provisions for individuals to be able to seek doctors who won’t counsel euthanasia as a treatment option. Since Subsection 241(9) of the Criminal Code is completely ignored in practice (which says that no individual shall be compelled to participate in or provide euthanasia), this is a major failure which puts us all at risk.
Canada is well down the path of euthanasia for any reason at any time without consent.
Nicole Scheidl is Executive Director of Canadian Physicians for Life.