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]

 

SS: Euthanasia

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On Feb. 6, 2015, the Supreme of Court of Canada’s decision in Carter v. Canada struck down the ban on doctor-assisted dying. The unanimous ruling gave eligible patients the right to receive physician help to die.

Our new government of Canada has four months to develop legislation that will respond to the Supreme Court of Canada ruling that the current law that makes it illegal for anyone to help people end their own lives should be amended to allow doctors to help in specific situations. Go here for a CBC report.

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The Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons has released a draft document to act as a guide to doctors who will be involved in physician-assisted suicide when it becomes legal in February.

Is there a difference between killing and letting die? “Bob Lane argued convincingly in the  Humanist in Canada that there is no real moral difference between these actions. But one who administers a lethal dose is subject to extreme legal sanctions, while another who achieves similar results by stopping treatment will suffer no legal consequences.”

More discussion available by clicking on either of the magazine covers above or go to the BC Civil Liberties site.

This is an important issue that citizens should think about and then let the government know what they believe and why.