Stop the Madness!

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Written by Ashley Bulthuis (Summer Intern 2015)

I recently heard Dr. Will Johnston’s speak at the March for Life in Victoria. His speech was profound. It was foreboding. It was a foretelling of what will come if the federal government rushes into enacting a law on assisted suicide that does not ensure the lives of all Canadians are valued and protected.

Dr. Will Johnston is the chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of British Columbia. During the rally he highlighted the need to place our focus on life-saving health care, stating “supplying real healthcare means supplying therapy. Therapy improves function, therapy does not intentionally create a corpse.” Our future doctors are at risk of playing the double role of health care provider and grim reaper if laws are not made to protect Canadians from physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. What a chilling prospect Canadians may face! As a millennial, I cannot help but wonder what this means for my generation.

The outcome of this decision impacts more than just our grandparents’ generation. Each of us will have to face the reality of death at some point, whether it be for a close family member, friend, or ourselves. If assisted suicide becomes permissible in Canada, it will open access to legalized killing in our country, providing a lethal alternative to the rightful dignity of a natural death. By legalizing this we fail to realize that our generation is sealing the lid to our own tomb.

Is this honestly what we want to aspire to?

To put the frenzied state of our current situation in perspective, consider the following insight from Dr. Johnston: “Parliament is warned to make the law stringent and rigorous, supposedly excluding some people from a new right for which their own subjective preferences are the only qualification. If you were a guest at this Mad Hatter’s Tea Party your best question would be who could you say ‘no’ to?” Having stringent regulations ultimately will not prevent innocent lives from being taken in the end, as there will be continued pressure to widen the regulations to include more people.

But we can do our part to prevent this madness from continuing. I encourage you to take part in Euthanasia Prevention Coalition’s Give Us Time campaign, which has sent out 80, 000 postcards asking politicians to hold a Royal Commission on assisted suicide, and invoke the Notwithstanding Clause so Parliament can draft effective assisted suicide legislation. Parliament currently has less than one year to draft legislation, but more than a year is needed to make such a massive decision. This is especially important in light of the upcoming federal election this fall, which will draw attention away from the Assisted Suicide debate. You can visit the campaign site to download the postcard, and encourage others to do the same!

Life is precious, let’s join together to protect it!

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Brittany Maynard: In Sickness & In Health

Written by Kathleen Dunn

We are so sad to hear the news that Brittany Maynard took her own life on Saturday, November 1st, after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family, and we hope that they find hope and healing after this traumatic experience. We are also so sad to see a precedent set by the actions of Brittany and her family. In the face of suffering, our response should not be to give up and put an end a life that is so valuable.

brittany Full story can be read here. 

No matter the state of suffering or hardship, our first and only intention should be to alleviate the suffering as much as we can and show our loved ones that they are valuable and have a purpose in this world, even through their illness.

In light of Brittany’s suicide, we want to encourage all of our students to go out of their way to show love and hope to all those around them. Treasure each life in front of you as if it were your very own. Take your club to visit hospices and homes for the elderly. The present moment can always welcome joy and hope, no matter what the future holds. Be a loving presence to those who may not have friends and family to hold their hand or hear their voice. May no one ever lose sight of their own value and purpose on account of our reluctance to reach outside of ourselves and touch the heart of another. Though we cannot reverse the actions of Brittany, we can do much to ensure that life and love prevail where death and fear overwhelm.

Related & helpful articles: 
– The Danger of Assisted Suicide Laws
– Seminarian with Terminal Brain Cancer Response to Brittany Maynard

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uOttawa Students For Life: If That’s The Logic…

This post was written for uOttawa Students For Life by uOttawa Students For Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

This short clip features interviews with Canadians about assisted suicide. Unfortunately, no one presents any reason to oppose it, but what’s particularly interesting  is how the third person arrives at a perfectly logical conclusion based on society’s premises. Indeed, we don’t give preborn children a choice when we end their lives, so what is there to stop consenting adults from ending their own? (Though of course in practice the sick would feel coerced into ‘choosing’ euthanasia because they don’t want to be a burden and disabled children would be candidates for euthanasia because adults deem their life, the only one they have, not worth living by an able-bodied person’s standards.) And really, why do we have suicide prevention programs and hotlines when it all boils down to an individual deciding whether his or her life is bearable? This is not to be provocative – it’s a natural extension “if that’s the logic,” as the young man in the video says.

CareNotKilling

Many people genuinely believe that being compassionate requires supporting abortion and euthanasia, even when they feel in their heart of hearts that it’s wrong. Active compassion, however, means staying by a friend or family member’s side even when their life takes an unexpected turn, for however long that might take. Isn’t it worth considering that we might not know when the best time for death is? For instance, there are many cases of people on their deathbed who hold on until a family member arrives to say goodbye. Moreover, isn’t it strange that it’s at this time in history, when medicine advances at incredible speed and we can do more than ever to manage pain, that there’s this desire to have death on demand available? The idea that there could be value in suffering and sacrifice, that there are some things that we can’t choose and plan, has become so completely foreign to our society that the general sentiment is that they are to be avoided at all costs, up to and including death. Life is already short, so let’s get out there and respond by educating people with life-affirming logic!

Like the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition on Facebook or follow Alex Schadenberg’s blog to learn more and keep up to date. We should all be able to give an articulate defense of life!


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.

uOttawa Students For Life: Dying: A Question of How, Not If

This post was written for uOttawa Students For Life by uOttawa Students For Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

Margaret Somerville contributes her usual clarity and sound reasoning to this written debate on euthanasia/assisted suicide. Have a look and vote! As a bonus, in this interesting two-minute video Margaret Somerville suggests that though their white coats lead us to think they can do no wrong, doctors are mere mortals too.

While we’re on the topic, follow this link to sign the Declaration of Hope opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation. For news about the push for euthanasia in different countries, read Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

 


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.

uOttawa Students For Life: After-Birth Abortion Happening in Canada?

This post was written for uOttawa Students For Life by uOttawa Students For Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

No matter where you stand on abortion, surely we should all be horrified that 491 babies were born alive and left to die between 2000 and 2009 in Canada, as confirmed by Statistics Canada. How can this be happening in our country? Could it be that not granting any protection or assigning any value to preborn children at any point before birth leads to more of the same treatment when they are still vulnerable after birth? (Infants and others in the UK are being subjected to slow death by starvation in an end-of-life regime called the Liverpool Care Pathway. Euthanasia by any other name is just as insidious.)

Motion 312 would have examined the scientific evidence on when human life begins. Don’t forget Stephen Woodworth’s talk at the University of Ottawa on Monday Dec. 3rd.

*Update: Use this email tool to let your MP know we’re on a slippery slide towards infanticide.


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.

uOttawa Students For Life: Call to Action on Assisted Suicide

This post was written for uOttawa Students For Life by uOttawa Students For Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

From NCLN:

Action Needed: BC Court Strikes Down Assisted-Suicide Ban

On Friday June 15th, the B.C. Supreme Court passed judgment on the Carter v. Canada Case. As Will Johnston, Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of B.C., stated in a National Post opinion piece, the decision “purports to create constitutional immunity for those who provide assistance to those seeking to kill themselves — a judgment that stands at odds with the Supreme Court of Canada’s Rodriguez ruling in 1993. …. Current law will stand for at least a year (the sole exception being the plaintiff in this case, 64-year-old ALS patient Gloria Taylor)”.

Allowing euthanasia and assisted suicide in our country directly threatens the lives of people with disabilities as well other vulnerable people in our society, and opens up further avenues for elder abuse.

A recent press release from the Canadian Association for Community Living concerning the Carter case decision stated, “Our concern, therefore, is that rather than advancing equality rights for Canadians with disabilities, this ruling will have quite the opposite effect. We fear that by embedding in Canadian law the message that some forms of human life are less worth living, the historic disadvantages faced by Canadians with disabilities that the equality rights provisions of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms were to address, will only be more deeply entrenched.”

We need you to raise awareness about the harms of legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide:
Sign this petition to the Attorney General of Canada, requesting that he adopts the strongest possible opposition to the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia
Read these talking points provided by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, and send letters to your local media outlets outlining your opposition to the court’s ruling as it is a recipe for elder abuse, and creates a slippery slope which discriminates against people with disabilities and leaves them at risk
Contact the Justice Minister, the Honourable Robert Nicholson, asking him to stay the Carter decision and appeal it to the BC Court of Appeal
Become educated on this issue by checking out some of these articles and resources.

We hope you will do all you can to make your voice known in this matter. Our society has ultimately failed if our solution to problems is to eliminate the sufferer, rather than find measures to alleviate their suffering.

“What does it mean to give informed consent to one’s own death?
Is it meaningful to say that we can appreciate and understand the nature and consequences of that decision, when that decision means that we will no longer be here?
Isn’t autonomy about the right to non-interference, in the name of protecting one’s integrity, not undermining it?
Doesn’t the right to self-determination only find meaning because we wish to lay claim to our future?”
~Michael Bach, Executive Vice-President,
Canadian Association for Community Living

Also, check out the personal, thought-provoking piece by NCLN’s Executive Director, a uOSFL alumnus.


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.

My Aunt’s Killer Should Not Be an Excuse to Kill

By Rebecca Richmond, NCLN Executive Director

ALS often come up when euthanasia and assisted suicide are discussed. The disease seems to be the poster child for the ‘right to die’ movement, and has been a part of major court cases including Gloria Taylor’s involvement in the recent Carter case and the 1993 Supreme Court case of Sue Rodriguez.

“Don’t you know about ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease?” I’ve been asked by those who support assisted suicide. “How would you feel if it was your loved one dying of ALS? Do you know what the disease does?”

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis? Yes, I do actually.

Several years ago my dad’s sister – my aunt and godmother – was diagnosed with the degenerative motor neuron disease that had also killed her grandmother many years before. Most patients only live between 3-5 years, but my aunt deteriorated quickly and we lost her on September 29, 2009 – only 13 months after diagnosis.

Even before the disease was officially diagnosed, she had to stop teaching due to problems with balance and standing. She called it ‘getting tippy’. By the time the disease had been officially diagnosed later that August, her mobility had been severely curtailed and the disease was already beginning to affect her speech. She warned my dad to let us kids know that if we picked up the phone and heard a drunk person on the other end, it was just their aunt.

Her approach to the disease mirrored her approach to life: blunt and practical. She quickly mobilized her husband and friends to rearrange the house for her so she had access to her scrapbooking materials and computer, and had a chair lift put in to help her get up and down the stairs. Legal matters were taken care of soon after the diagnosis as well.  There was never any “Why me?” questions; she just hunkered down to handle life as it was presented to her. It was her way of doing things.

Despite living in a small farming community in Saskatchewan, she was able to get the assistance she needed to live at home for several months. Her condition worsened rapidly – much too rapidly – and despite the heroic efforts of my uncle and her home care providers, she had to be admitted to a palliative care unit in a nearby small town hospital early the next spring where she remained until her death in the fall. Her memorial service was held at the community hall to accommodate the crowd of friends, colleagues, family and former students from decades of teaching who came to pay their respects.

ALS is a ghastly disease. My aunt quickly lost her independence, and became reliant on others for the basics that we take for granted. She soon lost her ability to speak, and near the end of her life it was almost impossible for her to communicate. Through it all, her husband and the medical team continued to lavish their love and care on her to alleviate her pain and suffering as much as possible until she died. She was an individual with dignity, and was treated with dignity, despite all the indignities the disease subjected her to.

I hesitated before I began to write, I hesitated before I sent it to my dad to look over, and I hesitated before I posted it. I do not want anyone to misinterpret my meaning. I am not glorifying my aunt’s suffering nor am I trying to make her the new poster child of our movement. My aunt would not be anyone’s poster child, thanks very much. My point is this: I am aware that ALS has a very human face to it. But it is precisely that humanity, and the humanity of all the vulnerable, that puts me firmly against euthanasia and assisted suicide. I hate the fact that my aunt’s killer is being used as an excuse to allow killing. I shudder to think how the medical system would have treated my aunt if euthanasia and assisted suicide was a part of the Canadian health care system. Would they have seen her as a financial burden to the system? Would they have done a cost-benefit analysis on her life? Would her ability to function have come to define her value?

And while Gloria Taylor and Sue Rodriguez gave a face to the euthanasia and assisted suicide movement in Canada, their stories are not the only stories. Legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia endangers our seniors, our friends and family with special needs and those suffering from diseases. These stories and our stories matter too.

I certainly wish my aunt hadn’t suffered or died, especially from such a horrific disease. I would like to see more research done on currently incurable diseases like ALS. I would like to see palliative care and pain relief improve. But creating a right to kill will not make that happen, nor is killing an acceptable way to ‘alleviate’ suffering. Instead, by allowing doctors to kill the sufferers, it only endangers the lives of all the vulnerable.

For more information and analysis on the Carter Case and the issue in general, please visit our Euthanasia Resource page.

Author’s note: Special thanks to my father for his contributions to this piece and for his encouragement.

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A Sad Decision Made in BC Courts

Josie Wichrowski is a summer intern with NCLN in our Western Office.  On Friday she was present at the B.C. Supreme Court for the ruling on the Carter Case.  The following is her reflection on the decision.

By Josie Wichrowski, NCLN Summer Intern

I was present at the BC Supreme Court yesterday where the decision was made to make an exception to the law, giving Gloria Taylor the right to be euthanized in Canada; this is the first step to legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada.

It was a particularly tense and important moment to be a part of and, whether you were present or not, you are all impacted by the outcome of the case. If this decision is upheld in the Supreme Court and sent to parliament, it will become a part of our constitutional law and it will affect all Canadians.

As a pro-life student who works hard to show my peers that all human life has value, I am appalled by this decision. On campus we want to instill life-affirming values amongst the future doctors, teachers, politicians, and other professionals of our country; but while we are working hard to affirm these values, our very own B.C. Court has just made a judgement that undermines them.

If a “right” to euthanasia and assisted suicide become law, it will only pave the way for more injustices to occur such as increased rates of suicide among those struggling with depression as well as seniors being pressured to accept euthanasia to avoid being a burden to their families. Unfortunately senior abuse is a reality that already happens in Canada, and euthanasia and assisted suicide would only worsen this. Such examples have been documented in jurisdictions such as Oregon and the Netherlands where assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal.

Is this what we want Canada to become, a country where we permit people to abuse others who are vulnerable and kill those in pain? The solution to suffering is not to eliminate the sufferer, but rather to alleviate the individual’s suffering.

Dr. Will Johnston, chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) and Dr. Margaret Cottle, vice-president, both spoke to media officials and conveyed how deeply disappointed they were in the court’s decision.

Dr. Cottle is a practicing palliative care physician in Vancouver and said if this law is drafted, it will be nearly impossible to prevent other forms of assisted suicide. As she stated, in her profession, “Only 30% of Canadian patients have access to palliative care. Whereas 70% of Canadians don’t…Are we therefore going to go to the drastic position of killing people?” She concludes, “This is a sad day in Canada and for my profession.”

The next question to ask is, is this decision binding for the rest of Canada? It certainly creates a dangerous precedent. What we do know is that an appeal must be made to the Court, and we need to get involved and do what we can to let our fellow Canadians know that we oppose the BC Supreme Court’s Decision. Please write a letter today to your local newspaper and media outlets, outlining your opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide, and the many harms that will result if these are legalized. For talking points, visit http://www.epcbc.ca/p/talking-points_06.html

Please contact Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, asking him to stay the Carter decision and appeal it to the BC Court of Appeal: mcu@justice.gc.ca.

Your voice is crucial to overturning this decision, as we show Canadians and politicians the abuses that would result. We must encourage the EPC as they work to appeal this motion, and discourage Parliament from crafting any law that would support euthanasia and/or assisted suicide. Such a law would have implications on all of us when we are faced with end of life decisions, both for ourselves and those we care for. It is at these moments when people are most vulnerable that we must not be making judgments on whether their life is worth living, but rather be affirming their value and right to life.

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