Garnett Genuis writes: Euthanasia
The Liberal government has brought forward another bill on euthanasia, making it even easier for people to be killed by their doctor or nurse practitioner if they request it. When this government brought in euthanasia in the first place, they said that some of the so-called “safeguards” that were in place would protect people from being pressured into choosing death prematurely. Unfortunately, the new bill takes away many of those promised safeguards. We are now approaching a situation where the healthcare system provides “death on demand”, and yet still does not provide effective palliative care for many patients who would rather not die prematurely. The government’s priorities are badly mixed up.
The government’s new euthanasia bill eliminates two of the existing safeguards – the general practice of a ten day reflection period before a person is euthanized, and the requirement for two independent witnesses to confirm the person’s consent. These particular provisions are not in response to any court decision.
The goal of the ten day reflection period was to recognize the reality that someone who is suffering may go through periods of extreme agony or despair which are not representative of their overall experience or wishes. All of us who have accompanied people dealing with severe illnesses know the natural variations that can exist in a person’s response. An expressed desire to die may be a sustained and consistent intention, but it may also be a short-term cry for help – for better care, better management of pain, or more love and support from others. Better pain management and palliative care might be an alternative for many people. Yet, without this reflection period, they can be rushed towards death more quickly than they can access the care that they need.
The concrete implications of removing the reflection period is that someone could ask for and receive euthanasia all in the same day. If someone’s pain management is off for a brief period of time, they could quickly be moved from the beginning to the end of the process, without any engagement of independent witnesses or family members. Can you imagine if a member of your family was in care, and you suddenly found out that they had been euthanized because someone said that they asked for it, and no family members were involved or present?
Please contact your Member of Parliament and ask them to oppose this expansion of euthanasia. We need to preserve the limited safeguards that currently exist, and it is wrong for the government to be trying to remove them.