They are offered assisted death and not assisted living

Dear Editor,

Re: “Don’t be swayed by rumours...” Feb 24/21

Parliament is on the verge of expanding euthanasia and assisted suicide (euphemised as MAiD) in the next few days. It might have gone to final vote by the time this letter is printed. While last week’s writer was accurate in his description of the safeguards of assisted suicide in the current law, the new Bill C7 will wipe most of those away. The new proposed law is a dramatic expansion of assisted suicide, removing the requirement for a person to be near death, and making way for any adult with a disease or disability to be granted assisted suicide. The Senate amendments added that even those with mental illness can qualify. There is no requirement that other treatments be tried first, or that the single witness to the request be independent. This all comes before the legislated 5-year review of the current law, and with limited study or debate during a pandemic. Virtually all disability advocacy groups across the country are opposed to this expansion - last week over 130 disability groups and allies wrote an open letter to stop this ableist legislation. Indigenous leaders also published a letter about the lack of consultation, and the message C7 sends to those who suffer with depression and suicidal thoughts. How will we respond when someone states “I want to die?” With C7, if the person has no prior health issues, they will be offered suicide prevention. But if the person has any disease or disability, all of a sudden, suicide assistance is available and offered as a choice. Is it any wonder disability groups are opposed? Their very lives are at risk. They are offered assisted death and not assisted living, such as in the documented cases of Robert Foley, Sean Taggert, Chris Gladders, and Nancy Russell, to name a few. The National Post, Toronto Star and Globe and Mail all had articles this past weekend documenting the dangers of C7. Furthermore, three United Nations special rapporteurs on disability and poverty released a report February 3 indicating Bill C7 is discriminatory and “risks further devaluing the life with disability.” But to get the full picture, I suggest listening to those who are most vulnerable, such as Gabrielle Peters, Amy Hasbrouck, and Catherine Frazee, who have all experienced the not so subtle coercion towards assisted suicide rather than support to live. And then lets offer those who are suffering around us a hand up, a smile, some encouragement and assisted living. Not the cold comfort at the end of a needle that Bill C7 promotes.

Respectfully,

Dr. Luke Savage.

Three Hills, AB