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article imageThe battle over euthanasia moves to court in Canada

By JohnThomas Didymus     Nov 20, 2011 in Health
After Canada's Parliament voted down an attempt to legalize euthanasia in the country last year, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) fighting for the legalization of euthanasia has taken the battle to court.
According to the American Family News Network, Alex Schadenberg, founder of The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada, said:
“Right now...the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is running a case featuring two plaintiffs, and their goal is to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada through the courts...They are contending that the laws that protect people from euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada are unconstitutional and the courts need to strike them down.”
Schandenberg accuses the Civil Liberties Association of working to amend the country's homicide law to allow people help others take their lives. He says his organization is committed to ensuring that the government opposes moves to use the courts to legalize euthanasia:
“Well, the reason is that of course in the court cases the attorney general's office is involved in defending the law, and we want to make sure that the attorney general's office is going to maintain a position where they will do whatever necessary in the courts to stop the euthanasia lobby from decriminalizing or striking down our laws that protect Canadians."
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, in a position paper, defended its position on euthanasia:
"we argue that there is a strong prima facie case for allowing persons who are facing intractable pain or indignities in the final stages of their lives to determine for themselves when life is no longer worth living, and, where necessary, receive assistance in ending their lives. This prima facie case is constructed from the principles of liberty, autonomy and equality; from the value of preventing unnecessary suffering and preserving the dignity of the individual; and from the inconsistency between legally allowing suicide and passive voluntary euthanasia while denying legal space to assisted suicide and active voluntary euthanasia. If we are to continue legally to bar these practices, there must be a compelling reason for doing so."
Some opponents of euthanasia in Canada have countered with arguments that what Canadians need is improved health care not the right to "kill themselves.", reported on November 17, 2011, a Canadian parliamentary committee report calling for improvement in healthcare for the elderly, the dying, and vulnerable Canadians. Schandenberg expressed his approval of the report, saying:
“What the report is talking about is how we should be providing better care for Canadians, not euthanasia or assisted suicide...There are areas where we are absolutely not providing proper care for Canadians right now and we can improve on things significantly...There is no use considering or even discussing the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide without these measure being done first."
But Schadenberg did not directly address the major concern of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association about people "facing intractable pain or indignities in the final stages of their lives." The BCCLA argues that people who find themselves in such extreme situation have a right to decide to die "when life is no longer worth living."
Schandenberg argued, however, that legalizing euthanasia may lead to a situation in which,
“ our [Canadian] culture of productivity and achievement...we...dismiss and ignore as unproductive the gifts and the beauty of our most vulnerable members, and we do so at our own peril, dehumanizing ourselves."
Schadenberg says Canadians do not want euthanasia legalized. He claims that if Canadians want it they would have lobbied members of Parliament to vote in its favor.
More about Euthanasia, Canada, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada
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