By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News
[Ottawa – CCN] – An organization dedicated to stopping the ever-increasing expansion of legally-sanctioned euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada is hoping that like-minded Canadians will take part in an international online strategy session to stop the spread of what it calls a “cultural virus.”
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) is joining forces with the U.S.-based Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation to host a free online Zoom conference on Saturday, Jan. 23, that will focus on how participants can help prevent “the spread of euthanasia and assisted suicide.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic we have heard about what we need to know to prevent the spread of the virus,” said a statement on the EPC’s website, which includes links to register for the online conference.
Free online conference on preventing the spread of euthanasia and assisted suicide: LINK to Zoom Registration.
“Euthanasia and assisted suicide are a cultural virus,” organizers of the Jan. 23 online event said, adding that the speakers at the conference will provide information and direction on how to stop or contain the spread of what they call a “death virus.”
The Jan. 23 conference runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET (9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CST) and is entitled: “Preventing the Spread of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: What You Need to Know.”
Speakers will include Canadian family physician Dr. Ramona Coelho, who has spoken out against the proposed expansion of Canada’s euthanasia system (known as “medical assistance in dying” or “MAiD”) during recent House of Commons and Senate hearings into Bill C-7.
Also taking part in the online discussion on Jan. 23 are the EPC’s Amy Hasbrouck, founder and board member of the Tourjours Vivant – Not Dead Yet Canada; Dr. Leonie Herx, past-president of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians and chair of the division of palliative medicine at Queen’s University; EPC executive director Alex Schadenberg, who will address how to change the cultural landscape that allows for euthanasia to flourish; Dr. Annette Hanson, a forensic psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine in the United States; Dr. Grodon Macdonald, the CEO of the Care Not Killing Alliance in the United Kingdom; and Dr. William Toffler, a family physician in Oregon where euthanasia was legalized 25 years ago.
The Jan. 23 conference comes as Bill C-7 changes to the euthanasia system in Canada that would make it easier to access a legally-sanctioned suicide Canada has been approved by MPs in the House of Commons, but still must be approved in the Senate.
MPs representing all parties in the House of Commons passed Bill C-7 by a two-to-one margin on Dec. 10. Along with eliminating the need for a person’s death being reasonability foreseeable to qualify for medically-assisted death, the new legislation would also eliminate or ease some of the other safeguards in the law such as lowering the number of witnesses needed when a person consents to euthanasia/assisted suicide. Bill C-7 would also eliminate a 10-day waiting period to perform an assisted suicide after consent is given and opens the door to allowing for advanced directives that could see a person be put to death even if they are mentally incapable of consenting when they are actually euthanized.
Critics of expanding the euthanasia/assisted suicide system have said that hearings at the committee level in both the House of Commons and the Senate show that there is no real consensus among Canadians to make significant changes to the medically-provided suicide / euthanasia system before a promised five year review is undertaken.
“The Senate needs to shelve Bill C-7 until after the five-year review is completed,” said the EPC’s Schadenberg. “If the government insists on passing Bill C-7 then it must limit the legislative changes to the Truchon decision which only required removing the phrase: ‘natural death is reasonably foreseeable.’”
Canada’s Catholic bishops also say it is “not too late to reconsider” and stop the expansion of legally-assisted suicide in Canada as they continue to try and convince members of parliament in both the House of Commons and Senate to pull back on making changes to the law now that the federal government has until Feb. 26 to bring federal law in line with a Quebec court decision from 2019.
Canada’s Catholic bishops are hoping that the additional time to consider proposed changes in Bill C-7, whicbwas granted by a Quebec court on Dec. 17, will persuade the country’s politicians to pull back from making it easier for Canadians to kill themselves with the help of a doctor.
On Dec. 18, 2020 the executive committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) issued a statement calling on Canadian politicians to reconsider changes that the bishops say are being rushed. “Over the course of the past several months, there has been significant debate among Canadians over Bill C-7. Among the amendments that are being introduced, it seeks to expand access to euthanasia by eliminating the ‘reasonable foreseeability of natural death’ criterion. This would allow those who are not dying to request and obtain euthanasia or assisted suicide in Canada,” the CCCB’s Dec. 18 statement said.
“The Catholic Bishops of Canada remain steadfastly opposed to all forms of euthanasia and assisted suicide. We are especially concerned by the accelerated and reckless pace in which the government is attempting to pass Bill C-7,” the CCCB said.
“Despite the numerous warnings by disability organizations and physicians about the devastating consequences of Bill C-7, the truncated and flawed legislative process has overstepped legitimate democratic debate, while simply racing to meet a provincial court deadline rather than taking the time to deliberate fully the implications of Bill C-7.”