Standing up against doctor-assisted suicide

I am paying close attention and have instructed my staff to set aside for me the input I receive from our riding on assisted suicide in Canada, and in particular, Private Member’s Bill C-384, introduced by Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde.

I am paying close attention and have instructed my staff to set aside for me the input I receive from our riding on assisted suicide in Canada, and in particular, Private Member’s Bill C-384, introduced by Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde. The legislation would permit assisted suicide and euthanasia for anyone 18 or older who is experiencing “severe physical or mental pain” and who has tried or refused appropriate treatment.

As your Member of Parliament, I want you to share with me your concerns on this matter. I also want you to know that I am personally committed to the sanctity of human life, and firmly believe that the government’s role should be to encourage and promote the protection of human life, rather than to permit its destruction. I do not believe in shortening a human life by way of doctor-assisted suicide or euthanasia.

I can advise you that Bill C-384 is a Private Members Bill, and as such will not likely become law in Canada. The very nature and function of private members bills are to stimulate debate on a range of topics and allow individual members of Parliament to voice their opinions on these concerns. Parliament is a place for debate and I firmly believe any issue of importance to Canadians should be debated there.

Many of my colleagues advise me that they are, as always, very concerned about protecting the aged, the disabled or other vulnerable people who could be at risk by a repeal of the present prohibitions against assisted suicide. I am confident that a majority of the MPs in the House of Commons will understand that to the majority of Canadians – and especially to our society’s most vulnerable citizen’s – the thought of legalizing euthanasia is very disturbing and threatening.

Yet, this issue has been raised and debated outside the House over the past few decades. In fact, we have the benefit of the experience thus far in the Netherlands where euthanasia was legalized in 2000. In 40 per cent of euthanasia cases, the patient didn’t request it – as required by the law. Even though the law is silent on euthanasia for children under 12, euthanasia has become ‘normalized’ in cases of physically or mentally challenged newborns. Outside of the Netherlands, a study at John Hopkins University in 2002 showed that of the 45 per cent of terminally ill cancer patients who said they wanted to die – only 8 per cent really meant it. I find these and other reports disturbing.

I hope my constituents agree with me when I say that I want my doctor to kill any disease that may afflict me – instead of killing me. If my doctor can’t cure me, then I want my doctor to kill my pain or discomfort – as much as possible – during the time I am afflicted. My doctor ought not to have to break the Hippocratic Oath in treating me. Medical technology available today ranges from state-of-the-art palliative care to effective pain management. With your support, I will be casting our vote in the House of Commons against Bill C-384 and any other assisted suicide legislation.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write to me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail sorenk1@parl.gc.ca.

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