RE: If assisted suicide is a right, how can it not be for all?

Letter sent in response to Andrew Coyne's article If assisted suicide is a right, how can it not be for all?

Andrew Coyne is correct when he states that four years ago parliament voted 226 against 59 against legalizing euthanasia. He is also correct in stating that “much has changed since then”

It is hard to understand how public opinion can appear to have changed in so short a period of time.

In 2010 the select committee Dying With Dignity conducted a poll in which there was no place to register total opposition to euthanasia or assisted suicide. An online poll of the same subject was restricted to those over 45 years of age.

In his article, Coyne also refers to “discredited concerns about slippery slopes, inadequate safeguards and the like”.

In the Calgary Herald (July 17, 2014) Dutch professor and ethicist Theo Boer said how wrong it had been to think that safeguards would ensure that legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia would be effective. “But we were wrong - terribly wrong, in fact. In hindsight the stabilization of numbers was just a temporary pause. Beginning in 2008, the number of these deaths show an increase of 15% annually, year after year. The annual report of the committees for 2014 recorded 4 188 cases (compared with 1 882 in 2002). Last year saw a continuation of this trend and I expect the 6000 line to be crossed this year or the next.” He went on to say “some slopes truly are slippery.”

In Quebec, more than 600 physicians registered their opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide. In Belgium, where euthanasia has been approved approved for minors 180 pediatricians were opposed to this decision. When an expert speaks on a subject in which he has specialized, he is entitled to respectful attention. Surely the doctors, especially those dealing on a daily basis with the sick at whatever stage in life, are the ones to listen to.

In a conversation with Rex Murphy on CBC, Dr. Gerald van Gurp, a Montreal family doctor who specializes in home palliative care, says he does not want to continue in the field if the law passes. He said that in his 30 years of palliative care he has rarely encountered a case where a person’s pain cannot be relieved.

Why now, when we have the most advanced methods of controlling pain, are we contemplating killing human beings? There is no dignity to be found in euthanasia or assisted suicide. They are not end of life care. As those physicians opposed to these measures have said “Killing is not caring”.    

Barbara Bagshaw
Dollards des Ormeaux