Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The future of "Therapeutic Homicide"

The National Post has reported on a recently published editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that says Canada needs to debate the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia—which they are calling “therapeutic homicide.”

In response to that CMAJ editorial, someone sent me an email comparing “therapeutic homicide” to another euphemistically labelled life-terminating procedure which was legalized in Canada four decades ago: “therapeutic abortion.”

I think the email writer’s analysis is bang on, and is a stark warning for us all about what is in store for Canada if we go down the path of legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia, and so I am posting an extensive excerpt from that email here:

"If assisted suicide/euthanasia is legalized in Canada, I can't think of any reason it won't end up like abortion in this country: no restrictions, fully funded by the taxpayer, health care workers pressured to take part in the procedure, lack of support/access for alternatives, etc.

The arguments they are using to promote it are eerily similar to the ones abortion advocates used to promote legalizing abortion: it is being done anyway, so it's better to have it under control and done in a "humane" way rather than resort to the "back alleys"; people have a "right" to self-determination, integrity, freedom of choice, autonomy, "security of the person," equality, etc.

If assisted suicide is legalized, why do we think suicide prevention programs would still be allowed?  Just imagine how abortion proponents would go ballistic if we wanted to start an "abortion prevention program"! That would be an affront to the freedom and dignity of women! Even "suicide alternative" organizations (if allowed to exist) would be viciously attacked for their "anti-choice" views and would receive no government funding. (Think of the "anti-choice" crisis pregnancy centres). Those offering life-affirming counseling to a suicide-minded person would be accused of "forcing their religious views on others."

Abortions were initially allowed for "therapeutic" reasons and for "difficult" cases we have 100,000 "therapeutic" abortions per year in Canada, no questions asked.

Women are sometimes (often?) pressured to have abortions (especially if the baby they are carrying is considered less than "perfect" by our imperfect society's standards); we are not allowed to ask women the reasons for their abortions; details of most abortions (such as gestational age, complications, etc) are kept hidden from the public, and now in some provinces abortion related information is not even available through Freedom of Information legislation.

And then of course, there's the censorship of the pro-life view by student unions on university campuses.

Why would assisted suicide and euthanasia--or should I say, "therapeutic homicide"--be any different?

Whether or not other countries which have legalized assisted suicide/euthanasia have been able to keep it restricted to just those cases that fall within clearly defined guidelines (in fact, some studies suggest they can't), what makes us think Canada could contain it, given our abysmal record at containing abortion? We are not like any other democratic nation on the planet with our secretive, fully-funded, limitless, abortion for any/no reason, unaccountable policy--and we're not even allowed to discuss this in our provincial and federal legislatures!

How do those pushing for legalized "therapeutic homicide" in Canada think that it won't progress the same way "therapeutic abortion" has in this country? How do they propose to contain the practice, when they (many of them are also proponents of abortion) could not contain abortion?"

One of the most outspoken advocates in favour of the legalization of assisted suicide is Dalhousie law professor Jocelyn Downie, who the email writer reminded me co-authored a guest editorial in the CMAJ in 2006, entitled, Abortion: Ensuring Access.

That guest editorial caused a huge outcry because the authors misrepresented the CMA’s policy on abortion referral, claiming that doctors who won’t refer are committing malpractice (compelling CMA’s ethics director Dr. Jeff Blackmer to issue a public clarification of CMA’s policy). The authors also claimed that the Supreme Court recognized that a woman’s “right” to “terminate a pregnancy” is protected by the Charter, when in fact the SCC recognized no such thing.

The writer that sent me the email, wonders if Dr. Downie, or some other advocate of legalized assisted suicide, can help us to understand how/why legalizing assisted suicide won’t lead to the same secretive, unrestricted, coercive situation we are in today with abortion.

I’d like to know the answer to that as well.

Or do we have another guest editorial in the CMAJ to look forward to in the not-too-distant future called "Therapeutic Homicide: Ensuring Access"?

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