SCC Assisted Suicide decision is irresponsible and dangerous

This article was published in the National Post on February 7, 2015.

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Supreme Court of Canada has made an activist decision by giving physicians the right in law to cause the death of people by euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Court has made an irresponsible decision, what is more, by using imprecise and subjective language, leaving many issues to be determined by Parliament without objective criteria the decision sets a dangerous precedent that, if unchecked, will lead to the sort of abuses that are now common in the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.

The decision allows euthanasia and assisted suicide for not only physical but also psychological suffering, without limiting it to clear parameters. Because there is no possible definition for psychological suffering, the Court has opened a Pandora’s Box.

Psychological suffering was the reason for the following deaths in the Netherlands: a healthy woman, with tinnitus, died by euthanasia; a healthy man who was lonely, depressed and recently retired died by euthanasia; a healthy woman who was deaf died by euthanasia; among many other cases.

The decision legalizes euthanasia for:

“a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”

One would assume “competent adult person” is clear enough, but what if that person is depressed? In Oregon, where the assisted death law is limited to people with less than six months to live, Dr. Charles Bentz has written about his long-term patient who was diagnosed with depression yet died by assisted suicide — under a law that claims to protect depressed people from assisted suicide. Competence is very difficult to determine. Similarly, the Belgian law requires that the person be competent, and yet Dr. Tom Mortier’s mother died by euthanasia even though she was experiencing situational depression related to a relationship break-up.

Link to the full article