UNICEF policy adviser supports euthanasia for "mature minors."

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Hugh Scher and I presented to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee this morning concerning Bill C-14, the bill that will regulate euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

The first presenter in the session was Marvin Bernstein, a lawyer and the chief policy adviser for UNICEF Canada. UNICEF is the United Nations Children's Fund.

In his testimony before the Senate Committee, Bernstein stated that the right to euthanasia should be extended to "mature minors." 
Bernstein stated that he endorsed the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory report that was stacked with pro-euthanasia "experts" and he endorsed the Special Joint Committee on Physician-AssistedDying that advocated euthanasia for people with dementia, people with psychiatric conditions and "mature minors."

Bernstein argued that court cases and international human rights agreements suggest that denying euthanasia to "mature minors" infringes upon their equality rights.

Senator Don Plett asked Bernstein how his position on euthanasia for children fits within UNICEF's Mission statement?

UNICEF's Mission Statement says:

UNICEF is on a mission to reach every child and ensure their well-being, no matter where they are in this world. There’s no limit to the lengths UNICEF will go, the risks we’ll take or the depth of our commitment to save children’s lives... 
We are committed to take action, save, rehabilitate and watch over children, with a special attention to the most vulnerable and excluded groups. 
UNICEF utilizes its influence not only to provide safety for children in need, but also to make a noticeable change in their overall outlook on life. UNICEF believes that if we create a safe, nurturing environment, then every child will get a chance in life regardless of circumstances. 
As part of the UN, we are active in more countries and have saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization.

Bernstein didn't answer the question.

Bernstein's comments to the Senate Committee are representative of an organization that has forgot its mission statement and lost its way. UNICEF was founded to save life not kill.

EPC needs you to contact Members of Parliament

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights will be hearing interventions concerning Bill C-14, the bill that will legalize and “regulate” euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) will be presenting to the committee next week. We will be represented by: Amy Hasbrouck (EPC – VP), Hugh Scher (EPC – Legal Counsel) and Dr Will Johnston (Chair of EPC – BC). 

Several MP's have said that they are receiving more communication from members of the euthanasia lobby than from our supporters. 

EPC needs you to contact members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights with your concerns about Bill C-14.

Resources for your communicating with committee members:

Link to the article on Bill C-14 by Alex Schadenberg.
Link to the article on Bill C-14 by the Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia.
Link to the article on Bill C-14 by Dr Will Johnston (EPC - BC).
Link to the article on Bill C-14 by Charles Lewis.
Link to the article on Bill C-14 by Andrew Coyne.
Link to the article on Bill C-14 by Amy Hasbrouck (Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet).

Committee Chair: Anthony Housefather (Lib) - Anthony.Housefather@parl.gc.ca
Committee Vice Chair: Ted Falk (CPC) - Ted.Falk@parl.gc.ca
Committee Vice Chair: Murray Rankin (NDP) - Murray.Rankin@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Chris Bittle (Lib) - Chris.Bittle@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Michael Cooper (CPC) - Michael.Cooper@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Colin Fraser (Lib) - Colin.Fraser@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Ahmed Hussen (Lib) - Ahmed.Hussen@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Iqra Khalid (Lib) - Iqra.Khalid@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Ron McKinnon (Lib) - Ron.McKinnon@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Hon. Rob Nicholson (CPC) - rob.nicholson@parl.gc.ca

EPC also encourages you to send letters to your Members of Parliament. Link to contact your Member of Parliament.

You can mail letters to Members of Parliament (Postage Free) by sending letters to:

(Name) Member of Parliament
House of Commons
Ottawa Ontario K1A 0A6

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition: the design of the euthanasia law will either discourage or enable abuse

Media Release
April 14, 2016

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) opposes giving anyone, the power in law, to cause the death of another person. We oppose any form of euthanasia and assisted suicide. 

In all jurisdictions where assisted death is legal, the laws lack effective oversight stated Alex Schadenberg, EPC executive director. Even the need for consent from the patient may often be ignored.

A study concerning assisted deaths in Belgium published in the NEJM (March 2015) found that more than 1000 deaths were intentionally hastened without request in the Flanders region of Belgium in 2013. The same study determined that many assisted deaths were not reported.

EPC legal counsel, Hugh Scher, urges the government to ensure effective oversight of the law. 

Prior approval by the court or an expert panel is essential to any assisted suicide regime that Parliament introduces. It is the only way to ensure compliance with legislative criteria established to identify vulnerability and prevent abuse of the law before people are put to death.

EPC VP Amy Hasbrouck,  a lawyer and disability leader, works in coalition with many groups.

Effective oversight based on a court approved or expert panel is endorsed by multiple stakeholders across the country including from the disability community, the medical community and legal experts.

Dr. Will Johnston, EPC – BC Chair stated that Euthanasia is not a form of health care. 

Defining euthanasia as health care would mean that lethal injections become a form of medical treatment. Not only is this an Orwellian concept, but may leave Canadians without a safe space within the healthcare system.

Dr Johnston continued: 

Forcing doctors to participate in killing their patients is paternalistic. To require doctors to refer patients to a doctor who will lethally inject them undermines conscience rights and my oath that I will “Do No Harm.”

EPC urges the government to protect people at the most vulnerable time of life.

For more information contact: 

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director (London) 519-851-1434, info@epcc.ca
Hugh Scher, EPC Legal Counsel (Toronto) 416-816-6115, hugh@sdlaw.ca
Dr Will Johnston, Chair EPC – BC (Vancouver) 604-220-2042, willjohnston@shaw.ca
Amy Hasbrouck, EPC – VP (Montréal) 450-921-3057, tigrlily@gmail.com

Hugh Scher: Letter to Members of Parliament and Senators

From: Hugh Scher, Scher Law Professional Corporation (Toronto, Ottawa)

To: Member of Parliament
House of Commons, Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Hugh Scher

Hugh Scher

Dear Honourable Member: 

Re: Response to Joint Committee Report on New Assisted Suicide Law

I am a constitutional lawyer and authority on human rights and the rights of people with disabilities in Canada, particularly in respect of end of life issues. I have advocated on these issues for the past 25 years. 

I have served as counsel or been consulted on virtually every end of life case in Canada over the past 15 years. Despite this, the joint committee investigating euthanasia and assisted suicide refused to hear my testimony. 

My review of the joint Parliamentary Committee report highlights the following major concerns: 

1. The Committee appears to unquestionably endorse a Benelux style regime of euthanasia, which has proven to be the most abused system of end of life practices in the world;

2. Even the Supreme Court of Canada recognizes that 32% of cases of euthanasia in Belgium were carried out without request and without consent, despite a legal requirement for these elements. In 47% of those cases, the doctors refused to report the matter to the overseeing body, despite a legal requirement to do so. Despite these clear breaches of the legal requirements of the Belgian law, not one Belgian doctor was prosecuted;

3. The joint Committee report suggests the broadest possible euthanasia regime in the world without any meaningful safeguards or effective oversight;

4. The joint Committee report and recommendations would extend access to euthanasia to children which is clearly contrary to the recommendations of the Supreme Court of Canada;

5. The joint Committee report would extend access to euthanasia to those acting based upon an advance directive and without the requirement for consent at the time of the act. This also contradicts the recommendations of the Supreme Court of Canada;

6. The joint Committee report further supports granting access to euthanasia to people with psychiatric conditions which fundamentally undermines both suicide prevention measures as well as requirements and safeguards for voluntariness, capacity and consent in end of life practices;

Link to the full article

Essential safeguards identified to protect vulnerable people from abuse in assisted dying law

Hugh Scher

Hugh Scher

The following article was published by Advocate Daily on March 3, 2016.

Toronto constitutional and human rights lawyer Hugh Scher is endorsing the Vulnerable Persons Standard, a list of evidence-based safeguards to protect Canadians requesting physician-assisted death who may be subject to coercion and abuse.

“There is certainly no guarantee that this standard alone is going to prevent unwanted deaths or the impact on our culture of legalized assisted death,” says Scher, principal of Scher Law and a frequent commentator on assisted dying issues.

“That said, the standard goes a long way to providing a level of protection against the risk of abuse of vulnerable people. It does provide for an effective means of oversight, which is essential in the event that this policy of assisted death is to possibly be safely implemented in this country.”

The Vulnerable Persons Standard includes the requirement for access to palliative care, and for two physicians as well as a judge or tribunal to sign off on a death. There is a requirement that consent be received at the time of the death, and that the consent is assessed at that time.

The standard has wide support among medical, legal and community-based organizations, including the Canadian Association for Community Living, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Vivre dans La Dignite and the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada.

Scher is counsel for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, a leading national and international association of doctors, nurses, people with disabilities and of leading experts on euthanasia and assisted suicide practices in foreign jurisdictions.

The intent is for the standard to become part of the new legislation or a form of regulation as the federal government prepares to introduce a new law on assisted dying.

Link to the full article

Assisted dying report goes beyond scope, ignores evidence

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

On February 25, the Special Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying released its report advising the government what to include in the euthanasia legislation in Canada. 

The Supreme Court struck down Canada's assisted suicide law(February 6, 2015) and have now given parliament until June 6, 2016 to implement a new law.

Similar to the Provincial-Territorial panel report that was intentionally loaded with pro-euthanasia activists, the federal committee recommended euthanasia for people with dementia, minors, for people with psychiatric conditions and without effective oversight.

EPC legal counsel and constitutional expert, Hugh Scher, called the committee proposal "a dangerous social policy experiment."

On Saturday, February 27; the Globe Mail published an excellent commentary by constitutional lawyer, David Baker, who represented national disability groups in the assisted suicide case at the Supreme Court and Trudo Lemmens, University of Toronto Professor in health law and policy at the Faculty of Law. 

Baker and Lemmens effectively argue that the Assisted Dying report goes beyond the scope of the Supreme Court decision, and that they also ignored evidence.

Link to the full article

Assisted dying proposal a 'dangerous social policy experiment'

Hugh Scher

Hugh Scher

The following article was published by Advocate Daily on February 26, 2016

A parliamentary committee is endorsing a "dangerous experiment" in what would be the most wide-ranging assisted dying regime in the world without judicial oversight, says Toronto human rights and constitutional lawyer Hugh Scher.

“The suggestion of endorsing euthanasia for people with psychiatric conditions, for people who are depressed, for children, for people with psychological suffering — and doing it with absolutely no independent, objective, before-the-fact oversight by a court or tribunal to ensure powers are not abused — is extremely troubling,” says Scher, principal of Scher Law
“Effectively the government is suggesting the fox should be ruling the chicken coop and this notion is an extremely dangerous one,” Scher tells AdvocateDaily.com.

The special parliamentary committee introduced the long-awaited recommendations on Thursdayas the federal government prepares to draft new legislation governing medical assistance in dying.

In Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5, the Supreme Court struck down the ban on doctor-assisted death last year. The government has until June to come up with a new law that recognizes the ability of clearly consenting adults who are enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to seek medical help in ending their lives.

Contrary to the Supreme Court ruling in Carter, the committee suggests that people diagnosed with incurable conditions likely to cause loss of competence, such as dementia, should be able to make advance requests for medical assistance in dying, the report says.

The committee says physician-assisted dying should be immediately available to competent adults 18 years or older and — after further consultations — should be expanded to include "mature minors'' within three years, something Scher and many suicide prevention experts find alarming.

Link to the full article