This brilliant expose of 'the facts' by Margaret Somerville was published first on MercatorNet:
Recently, the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, published an editorial, “Quebec gets it right on the right to die”, which articulated the strongest case that can be made for supporting legalizing euthanasia and Quebec’s Bill 52 which seeks to do just that.
At the time of publication of the editorial, the Bill was expected to pass within days. As events have unfolded that has not occurred due to an unexpected move by the opposition Liberal party members of the Quebec Legislative Assembly, which delayed the Bill being put to a vote. In the interim, a budget bill was introduced and seems almost certain to be voted down, which will lead to a provincial election. Bill 52 will fall with the calling of an election, but if the Parti Quebecois is re-elected it is certain to again be brought forward, so this might be a temporary reprieve.
But here I want to address the Globe’s editorial. Like Bill 52, it focuses only on the individual person who wants euthanasia, and, moreover, is in “unbearable pain”. The editors see the goal of Bill 52 as seeking “to sensibly regulate how a physician can deliberately end a patient’s life”. And they accept that doing so is “a medical and not a criminal matter”.
They take comfort in recognizing that “Quebec’s criteria [governing euthanasia] closely resemble the rigorous six-part test offered in the Netherlands” and reassure us that “Quebec has given no indication that it seeks to emulate Belgium’s approach” of recently extending euthanasia to children.
I will critique these points in order. Good ethics depend on good facts and we need to get our facts straight.
First, the terminology of a “right to die” is problematic. If you have a “right to die”, someone else has an obligation to kill you. Rather, as is fully recognized in Canadian criminal and civil law, and medical ethics, you have a right to be allowed to die by refusing medical treatment. This is a natural death, not euthanasia.
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