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Deep concerns generated by assisted death recommendations

Last Updated Feb 26, 2016 at 12:04 am PDT

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Summary

Not enough protection for doctors, says organization, in the wake of release of assisted death recommendations.

Organization wonders about oversight, when assisted death becomes law in Canada.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Assisted death legislation is taking shape, as MPs mull over recommendations made by a parliamentary committee.

Among the recommendations: allowing “mature” minors and the mentally ill the right to seek physician-assisted death.

The report, however, is generating deep concerns.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition says the recommendations would make assisted death easier to access in Canada than in European countries offering physician-assisted suicide.

“They are talking about minors, we’re talking about people with psychological issues. These recommendations take us further than Belgium and the Netherlands, even before the legislation has passed,” says Schadenberg.

The coalition had intervener status in the original Supreme Court of Canada case, which brought down its ruling a year ago.

Schadenberg says the committee report contains no protection for family physicians.

“Doctors who have no interest in performing euthanasia are being told ‘You don’t have to do it, but you’re going to have to refer the matter to a doctor who does. You’re going to have to be complicit in this in some way, even if you don’t agree.'”

He feels the report also falls short of providing oversight to make sure doctors are following the rules. He says, as it’s proposed, the two doctors who sign-off on the procedure will simply send a report once the patient is dead. Schadenberg says a third-party is needed to monitor that everything has gone by the guidelines.

The federal government has until June to enact legislation governing physician-assisted death. Cabinet is expected to begin discussions within weeks.