A few clouds

Winnipeg, MB

11°c A few clouds

Full Forecast

Editorials

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wait for the ruling on assisted suicide

Posted: 01/18/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Advertisement

  • Print

The Province of Quebec is preparing to defy the law against assisted suicide later this year with new regulations that would allow medical doctors to help end the lives of terminally ill patients who are nearing death.

The spark for the bold move was a decision last year in a British Columbia court, which ruled it was unconstitutional to prevent sick and dying people from asking for medical help to end their lives.

The court's judgment was suspended while the federal government appeals to the B.C. Court of Appeal, but the case is undoubtedly destined for the Supreme Court of Canada.

It means Quebec's plan would be illegal, but the province is getting around the law by simply directing its Crown attorneys not to prosecute cases of doctor-assisted suicide. The province did the same thing during the abortion debate, allowing doctors to terminate pregnancies for 12 years before the law was changed.

A majority of Canadians support the idea of assisted suicide, but Quebec should delay its plans pending a decision by the Supreme Court, which could well uphold federal opposition to euthanasia.

A patchwork system on such an important and complicated issue is not an ideal situation, and it opens the door to other provinces to nullify federal laws they don't like by simply directing prosecutors to turn a blind eye.

It's unfortunate the courts must decide the question, but Parliament, including members of all parties, have continuously refused to change the law to allow those who are diagnosed with a serious illness, and who are experiencing intolerable suffering with no chance of improvement, to end their lives.

Under the Quebec plan, patients seeking an assisted death would have to be demonstrably competent and free of clinical depression. A committee of doctors would have to agree the patient is suffering and terminally ill.

A waiting period would also be imposed.

These are reasonable measures for what ultimately should be a patient's decision. In fact, there is something cruel and inhumane about forcing people to live in pain against their will when they are still capable of making rational decisions.

The universal ban against assisted suicide is paternalistic and abusive, which ultimately is a personal choice, too.

Doctor-assisted suicide, then, is not an assault on life, but an affirmation of the right of the suffering to go with peace and dignity.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 18, 2013 A10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.