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Robbing basic right: life itself

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CALGARY -- The most fundamental part of who we are is we are live human beings. The most fundamental right we have is our right to life. Without a robust right to life, our lives can easily be put in danger.

Our right to life is being challenged. Not in a straightforward way, but using a seemingly small sympathetic group: the terminally ill. The wedge being used is physician-assisted suicide.

While a person can kill themself, we forbid anyone else from helping them. We can have a person who wants to kill themself committed to a hospital for treatment. If the euthanasia crowd has its way, those same doctors will also be able to kill the suicidal person. That turns hospitals into dangerous places to be.

The euthanasia lobby doesn't use the term "mercy killing." Instead, they use "euthanasia" which sounds clinical. It sounds different. It removes "killing" from our thoughts.

The euthanasia lobby has chosen another case to try and get the courts to change the law and allow euthanasia. In the recent British Columbia case, Carter v. Canada, the Court of Appeal upheld the ban on physician-assisted suicide. But it won't end there. The lobby will probably try an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. If they don't win there, they will start over again with another case.

I would respectfully recommend when any court deals with this issue, each judge study the well-documented experience of the Dutch. I can highly recommend Wesley J. Smith's Forced Exit: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, and the New Duty to Die, and Dr. Herbert Hendin's Seduced by Death: Doctors, Patients, and the Dutch Cure. Dr. Hendin is a psychiatrist and world-recognized expert on suicide. His discussion on the effects on physicians when they euthanize patients is chilling.

In 1973, the Dutch courts set out guidelines under which doctors could euthanize a patient. In 1993, these guidelines were made law. Before passing the law, the Dutch government commissioned a study of how euthanasia was carried out.

The 1991 Remmelink Report included some frightening facts. When end-of-life medical decisions were made, more than one in 10 (11.1 per cent) involved euthanasia. The truly frightening fact was more than half of these were involuntary, contrary to the guidelines. The person killed didn't ask or want to die; it was the doctor who decided. I wouldn't be surprised if those figures were higher today.

Stop and think about it. The government made the guidelines law, even though their own report showed more than one in 20 people who were euthanized did not want to die and had not asked to die and even though in half the cases of euthanasia it was the doctors who made the decision, not the patient.

A right to life is not much of a right if you can't exercise it or if someone else can override or ignore your decision.

A few years ago, I watched a TV documentary on euthanasia. It was obviously in favour of euthanasia. There was one interview that froze me. The man being interviewed had months to live. He stated that, although he did not want to die, his family was in favour of it and he did not want to be a burden to his family. I froze when the commentator calmly said the man had been euthanized. I froze because the documentary portrayed this as a good thing.

It is not a good thing when you can be coerced into being killed in order to save money. It is not a good thing when you can no longer trust the medical people you have to entrust with your life.

Euthanasia is not a good thing. Even when it starts with the best of human intentions, it does not turn out well. Euthanasia is not healthy.

Euthanasia takes away our most fundamental human right, the right to life. It reduces our humanity.


Anne McTavish is a conflict coach and lawyer, and her website is Her book, Beyond Anger Management, is due for release shortly.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 28, 2013 0

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