We haven’t heard the end of the Euthanasia, medically assisted suicide, and whatever other euphemism is employed to describe legal murder, debate.
The House of Commons and the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-14 which makes medically assisted suicide legal, but the bill does not go as far the Supreme Court ruling in the Carter Case. The result is very likely to mean more court challenges to force the federal government, through the Supreme Court, and I’ll say more about that in a moment, to widen the criteria.
The Supreme Court ruling allowing medically assisted suicide was so broad it pretty well provided that anyone could demand anyone involved in the medical profession, usually a doctor, to end their life. Bill C-14 says natural death must be reasonably foreseeable before medical assistance to end one’s life is allowed. That’s more restrictive. The Court also made no exceptions; if medical assistance to end one’s life is requested it either has to be granted or a referral must be made to someone else who will carry out the procedure. It also made no exceptions for institutions, which puts Catholic care homes and hospitals in a bind because they are publically funded.
Health care is a provincial responsibility, but the Supreme Court ruling does not appear to give provinces much wiggle room. Provinces might be able to pass their own legislation giving some protection to both institutions and medical personnel who want no part of taking someone else’s life. With that in mind an ecumenical delegation approached the Saskatchewan government June 21 requesting the province increase the amount of palliative care available, and to provide protection for conscientious objectors who won’t provide the “service” and would not be “required” to refer an individual to someone who will provide it.
Saskatchewan Health Minister ‘Dustin Duncan, Premier Brad Wall and NDP Opposition Leader Trent Wotherspoon all gave the delegation a good and respectful hearing, according to Saskatchewan Bishop Don Bolen and Saskatchewan Eparchial Bishop Bryan Bayda. Duncan and Wall said they would try and meet some of the delegation requests. Wotherspoon and the NDP were supportive of more palliative care in the province.
A word about the Supreme Court; Since Canada passed the Charter of Rights and Freedoms contained in the 1982 Constitution, the courts have become much more involved in providing “guidance” in interpreting how laws passed by elected governments comply with the Charter. There is a growing resentment, more recently expressed by columnists and other bodies, that the courts are creating laws by dictating to governments what has to be done to comply with the Charter. The courts have always interpreted legislation, that’s one of their major roles in our form of democracy but ruling on moral issues ie; abortion, medically assisted suicide etc. is raising resentment in some quarters.