TEMPLATE LETTER TO E-MAIL TO ASSISTED SUICIDE COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Dear Physician-Assisted Dying Committee Member,
Thank you for serving on the special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying. This is an extremely complicated issue and the task ahead of you is not an easy one.
I am one of many Canadians who do not support any law permitting euthanasia or assisted-suicide and was grieved when the Supreme Court struck down the laws last year. I believe Human life is inherently worthy of protection by the law.
Having said this, I understand that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that mentally competent Canadians with unbearable suffering should be allowed to end their lives with the aid of a physician. As one of the Parliamentarians tasked with studying this important issue, I am writing to ask that you work to ensure that the strictest of safeguards are put in place to protect vulnerable Canadians (those who may be in a state of depression, who may be under coercion from family or others to end their lives, the elderly, the disabled or children). I am also writing to share some specific concerns I have for your consideration.
Some of my specific concerns include:
I am very concerned with the subjectivity of the terms “unbearable" pain and “mentally-competent” set forth by the Supreme Court. What is considered unbearable to one person may be bearable for another. Furthermore a person one physician deems mentally competent might be deemed incompetent by another. The terms are incredibly subjective and therefore, I believe, present a very real danger. These terms put physicians in a position to 'play God' with people's lives during a vulnerable time in their life.
I am concerned that reports show that in Belgium, one third of euthanasia deaths were done without explicit consent in spite of a law requiring consent.
I am deeply concerned with the fact that safeguards cannot eliminate abuse and unintended deaths.
I am also deeply concerned by trends we have seen in other nations that have legalized euthanasia towards ending the lives of children. This is very disturbing. My hope is that Canada would, in no circumstance, allow euthanasia of a child.
Finally, I am concerned by the multitude of medical cases of people who were unconscious for a period of time only to come out of that state and report that they were aware of everything happening around them during their state of unconsciousness, as well as the many cases of medical miracles where people recovered in-spite of medical science deeming them terminal. There is always a chance for a miracle and this chance should be protected.
In light of the above, I implore you, therefore, to create guidelines for Canada’s new laws on assisted-suicide, and to implement the strictest guidelines possible so that physician-assisted dying is a rarity in Canada.
Please put into place safeguards that protect those who may be pressured towards euthanasia in order to not become a burden to their families or society, or who would be coerced under physical, mental, or emotional distress. Please also protect Canadian doctors, who have dedicated themselves to saving lives and not ending them, so that their freedoms of conscience and religion are fully protected under the law.
I encourage you to focus on improving and extending palliative care and hospice resources rather than concentrating funds and personnel on assisted dying.
Thank you for your attention in this matter and for considering these points as you go forward in this assignment.
(Your name and address.)