Sunday’s Secular Sermon

dying

 

After consulting 73 experts in five countries, as well as 92 representatives from 46 Canadian organizations, and after collecting over 300 document submissions from stakeholders and almost 15,000 responses online, the federal government of Canada has released an external panel’s report on appropriate legal options in response to Carter v. Canada, last year’s case on physician-assisted suicide.

On February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that sections 241(b) and 14 of the Criminal Code—which make it illegal for anyone, including a physician, to assist in the death of another person—violate the constitutional rights of adults who suffer from grievous and irremediable illness. The decision decriminalized assisted suicide by physician-issued prescription and by voluntary euthanasia (when a physician administers life-ending medication).

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Canada’s Euthanasia Law

English: Supreme Court of Canada building, Ott...

English: Supreme Court of Canada building, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Polls show the public is supportive of assisted dying. The Supreme Court has directed the government to write a new law. Have an opinion? Let the government know what you think. Go here.

More information:

Euthanasia for Children?  [Source.]

Passive euthanasia, withdrawing or withholding treatment with the effect of hastening a patient’s death, has long been legal in Canada. Active euthanasia, taking positive measures to bring about a patient’s death, will soon also be legal as per a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in February 2015. A new public debate has emerged in the wake of this step: Should the right to ask for one’s own life to be terminated to be extended to children too?

It is not as strange a thought as it may seem: in the Netherlands euthanasia is lawful for patients over the age of 12, in Belgium for terminally ill children of any age if they are experiencing ‘constant and unbearable suffering’. The consent of parents and doctors is, of course, needed. Dr Eduard Verhagen is a lawyer and the medical director at the department of paediatrics at the University Medical Center Groningen. He argues that “most children with a life-limiting illness, before they have even entered the terminal phase, have made decisions about their treatment, and about their lives 30, 40 or 50 times.” A Canadian provincial-territorial advisory panel has now argued that access to doctor-assisted dying should not be hindered “by the imposition of arbitrary age limits.”

Arthur Caplan, head of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center comments: “Setting the precedent that the state is going to tolerate killing children, even mature minors, is very, very dangerous… It’s the slippery slope argument, and this is a slope I worry about. Sometimes I don’t, but this one I do.” There is also serious opposition from medical practitioners: “Most of our fight is about kids that want to live … not most of our fight, all of our fight is about that, and how to do it with as minimal suffering as possible,” says Dr Stephen Liben, director of the Montreal Children’s Hospital pediatric palliative care programme. “The last thing I need as a palliative care physician for children is a euthanasia law.”

“Euthanasia: The Debate Continues.” [Source.]

Global News report. [Source]