Senator Denise Batters: Help the mentally ill. Don’t kill them

Senator Denise Batters

Senator Denise Batters

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The National Post featured a guest column, on March 14, 2016, by Senator Denise Batters concerning her opposition to the legalization of euthanasia for people with psychiatric issues. Senator Batters is a lawyer and a mental health advocate.

Previous article by Senator Batters.

Batters was widowed when Dave Batters, her husband, died by suicide in 2009 while he was a sitting member of parliament. Senator Batters experience with her husband's suicide led her to strongly oppose euthanasia for people who live with psychological suffering.

Senator Batters writes in her National Post column:

Questions surrounding suicide are deeply personal to me. I lost my husband, former member of Parliament Dave Batters, to suicide in 2009, after his struggle with severe anxiety and depression. In the years following his death, I have worked to raise awareness and dispel the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide. That has included communicating to those struggling with mental illness, particularly with those who harbour thoughts of suicide, to encourage them not to give up, but to instead reach out for help. 
This is why I have reacted so strongly against the recent majority report of the joint parliamentary committee studying physician-assisted suicide. Polls show that most Canadians agree with physician-assisted suicide, but usually those poll questions (and Canadians) assume that only those with terminal illnesses would be given the option. Canadians want strict safeguards on who is eligible for assisted dying and legislators have the responsibility to provide that clarity. The committee report failed to provide either. Instead, it threw open the door to a number of shocking scenarios.

Link to the full article

A critique of Canadian Senate Bill S - 225 - An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (physician-assisted death)

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

Senate Bill S - 225 is designed to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide by amending Section 14 and Section 251 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) opposes the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide for several reasons including the fact that legalizing physician-assisted death gives physicians, in law, the ultimate power to cause or assist the death of their patients. When abused, the result is the death of a vulnerable Canadian.

EPC supports measures to improve: disability rights, pain and symptom management and suicide prevention.

The bill was originally written by Stephen Fletcher MP for his own potential death, and thus it is written for a person who is not terminally ill, who requires a wide application for euthanasia and assisted suicide.

  • The bill specifically allows euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with disabilities. 
  • The bill is not limited to terminal illness. 
  • The bill allows euthanasia or assisted suicide for "psychological suffering," which is not defined.
  • The bill requires physicians to self report the death after it has occurred. This assumes that physicians will self-report abuse of the law and it does not provide protection for the patient. 

Bill S-225 is particularly concerning because it specifically focuses on intentionally causing the death of people with disabilities who already lack equality and acceptance within Canadian culture.

Our concerns related to the conditions in Bill S-225 are:

Link to full article.

A dangerous euthanasia bill to be debated in Canada's Senate.

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Senator Nancy Ruth and Senator Larry Campbell introduced Senate Private Bill S 225, a bill that legalizes euthanasia by lethal injection and assisted suicide by lethal prescription. This bill is based on the private members bills that were introduced by Stephen Fletcher MP earlier this year.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) welcomes an open debate that does not ignore the facts.

Canada has debated euthanasia and assisted suicide on many occasions with the most recent vote in parliament (April 2010) where bill C-384 was defeated by a vote of 228 to 59

The language of Senate Bill S 225 is intentionally permissive. The bill is designed to protect physicians who act by lethally injecting or assisting the suicide of their patients. It is not designed to protect the patients. 

  • The bill specifically allows euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with disabilities. 
  • The bill allows euthanasia or assisted suicide for "psychological suffering." Psychological suffering is not defined. 
  • The bill is not limited to terminal illness.
  • The bill requires the physician to self report the death after it has already occurred. This assumes that physicians will self-report abuse of the law. Since the patient is dead, when the act is reported, therefore no actual protection exists for the patient.

Link to the full article.