Canada’s euthanasia Leviathan

This article was published by Careful a Mercatornet blog on April 26, 2016.

Supporters invoke Thomas Hobbes in a proposal to crush conscientious objection to euthanasia. 

By Michael Cook

Michael Cook

Michael Cook

Canada is soon to have legislation permitting euthanasia and assisted suicide, as decreed by its Supreme Court last year. One question, however, over which some uncertainty hovers is how much wriggle room should be left for doctors who have ethical objections to the new regime.

For one of the country’s most influential bioethicists, Udo Schuklenk, the answer is straightforward: none.

In an article published last weekend, he wrote that “conscientious objection has no place in the practice of medicine”. If doctors feel that they cannot practice euthanasia or refer patients to another doctor for euthanasia, they should find another job.

Dr Schuklenk is worth listening to. He is the co-editor of Bioethics, one of the world’s leading journals in the field, and a professor of philosophy at Queen’s University, in Ontario, Canada. He was one of the authors of an influential white paper commissioned by the Royal Society of Canada for the debate which eventually led to legalisation.

His stand on conscientious objection is not new, but the timing is significant. Bill C-14 was introduced into the Canadian parliament last week implementing the Supreme Court ruling.

Only doctors will be allowed to perform euthanasia, but it is still not clear whether they will have the option of conscientious objection. Dr Schuklenk’s essay in the Journal of Medical Ethics (written with a colleague, Ricardo Smalling, also from Queen’s University), is sure to influence the debate in the weeks before the Supreme Court’s June 6 deadline for passing legislation.

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Ian Dowbiggin: A scandal in the euthanasia archives

The Prince Arthur Herald published this article on November 30, 2015. Ian Dowbiggin is the author of the book: A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America

Why has the euthanasia movement hidden or destroyed its history?

 

By Ian Dowbiggin 
Imagine for a moment that reporters broke the news that the Vatican had destroyed the bulk of its archival records. Researchers around the world justifiably might accuse the Roman Catholic Church of a deliberate cover-up. 
Well, the Vatican has done no such thing. But it appears as if the right-to-die movement has. If so, one might well ask; why did people in the movement do it? Are they trying to hide something about their past? 
One thing is clear: if the euthanasia movement’s records have indeed been destroyed, a lot of history has vanished, Orwell-like, down a cavernous memory hole. And with it, information the right-to-die movement doesn’t want you to know. 
I should know, because I saw these records and I know what was in them. I wrote up my findings in my 2003 book on the history of the movement, published by Oxford University Press. 
The story of my involvement in these valuable records begins about fifteen years ago when I was given permission to explore the archives of what used to be called Partnerships for Caring, Inc. PFC was a successor organization to the defunct Euthanasia Society of America (ESA). The ESA records, housed in a law firm in Baltimore, consisted of 15 large cardboard boxes holding correspondence, financial records, press releases, published materials and minutes of meetings, much of it uncatalogued. 

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