Ottawa—Today the Supreme Court of Canada has struck down Canada’s existing laws against assisted suicide which protected all Canadians including the elderly, the vulnerable and the disabled.
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada has researched the effects of legalization in four jurisdictions that have legalized euthanasia/assisted suicide. These are Belgium (2002), the Netherlands (2002), Oregon (1997) and Washington State (2009).
Some of our findings include:
Belgium: A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that 32 percent of euthanasia deaths in Belgium happened without the express request of the patient. These patients were predominantly 80 years or older who were mostly in a coma or had dementia. Between 2002 and 2009, only five percent of euthanasia requests were denied.
Oregon: Since 2005, the number of deaths by assisted suicide has doubled. Prescriptions to kill patients grew by 76 percent, whereas the population grew by only seven percent.
Washington: Between 2009 and 2012, the number of deaths by assisted suicide grew by 130 percent while Washington’s population grew only 18 percent. Their law, which states that to qualify a person must be 18, competent and have a diagnosed incurable and irreversible disease with six months to live, has been deemed too restrictive. The push is on to make assisted suicide available to those who judge their suffering unbearable but are not terminally ill, as well as those who are not competent but have previously asked for assisted suicide in an advanced directive.
The Netherlands: The number of deaths by euthanasia doubled between 2008 and 2013. Under the Groningen Protocol, the right to assisted suicide has expanded to include babies. This protocol regulates the process of killing infants with life threatening illness and/or the prospect of great suffering.
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada sees no evidence to believe “suicide creep” won’t also happen in Canada.
Furthermore, this decision will harm families, as we have noted in the past. What has been promoted as an individual right will have profound family and community effects.
Suffering can be alleviated through excellent palliative care, an area where Canadians are leaders in the field. Most Canadians currently do not have access to palliative care.
For further reading and for sources for the above data points, please check No second chances, What can the Dutch experience with euthanasia teach Canada and The illusion of limiting legalized euthanasia.
To arrange for further comment, please contact Eloise Cataudella, firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-565-3832 ext. 7505.