C-14 now law: the resistance continues

The federal government’s bill C-14 was adopted this past Friday, June 17th 2016, by a majority of Senate members.

As of today, the Criminal Code contains “exemptions from the offences of culpable homicide, of aiding suicide and of administering a noxious thing, in order to permit medical practitioners and nurse practitioners to provide medical assistance in dying and to permit pharmacists and other persons to assist in the process” (>>).

In other words, the government has given a special permission to doctors, nurses, pharmacists and “other persons” so that they have the right to kill, to help committing suicide, and to inject poison into those who suffer. The dominant discourse falsely qualifies these acts – considered crimes mere weeks ago – as being “rights of patients” or “health care”.

This new trend distances us more and more from the initial idea that was sold so that our society could swallow the bitter pill: back then, it was a question of exceptional measures for exceptional cases.

Today, although members of the Senate have finally agreed on the final version of the federal bill that maintains the requirement that death be “reasonably foreseeable”, Canada finds itself with the laxest law in the world.

Yet proponents of euthanasia and assisted suicide are still not satisfied, and the general message sent by our policy makers is that this law is only a first step and that the challenges to further extend it will undoubtedly take place.

For them, it is but a question of time. For us, it is a question of slippage.

One thing is certain, our principles, our reasons, our arguments, and our will to protect the social fabric and the vulnerable population are not erased under the stroke of the pencil which formalises this ideological thinking.

And opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide is certainly not the promotion of suffering.

On the contrary.

Opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide is first to defend the dignity and worth of each human being regardless of their appearance or their health.

It is to fight not for access to death, but for accessibility to good health care made possible thanks to modern medecine.

It is to ensure that all citizens have the right to effective pain relief and human care that palliative care provides.

And it is also to oppose a new standard of quality which we are in the process of imposing on human lives without which a life is not worth living.

Our fight consists above all of remembering that each request to “medical aid in dying” is first and foremost a failure of our society which has not succeeded in taking care of a sick person, in addition of being a poor response to good questions. And to answer these questions, even if this means turning our face to the wind or swimming against the current, we must continue to value the only remedy to euthanasia and assisted suicide: human solidarity.

Taking care of those who need us is not a diminution of dignity. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to demonstrate to this person their value and importance in society in spite of their decreased capacity.

In defending these basic foundations of our society, it is not merely our loved ones or those who are fragile that we defend. We also defend the conscience of generations to come.