What is Meant by the Right to Die?

(It'’s not as if death is optional.)

The RIGHT TO DIE really means: choosing death to solve a problem, doctors killing patients, assistance in suicide. Expedience, even compassion has never been a justification or defence for murder. Canadian law has held that murder is never justifiable. This defence for the vulnerable must not be dismantled. Medical decisions must always be based on medical concerns; not social, cost-cutting or arbitrary ‘quality of life’ reasons.

The RIGHT TO DIE does not refer to the RIGHTS WE’'VE ALWAYS HAD: the patient’s right to refuse treatment, the patient’s right to order treatment to be discontinued, the doctor’s right to abstain from futile or meaningless treatment, the withdrawal of treatment when it no longer serves any therapeutic purpose, giving drugs in doses adequate for pain relief. These have always been recognized under Canadian law as medically appropriate.

Assisted suicide has once again reared its head in Canada. Evelyn Martens of Victoria, British Columbia and a prominent member of the Canadian Right to Die Society has been charged with assisting in the suicides of Leyanne Burchell of Vancouver B.C. and Monique Charest of Duncan B.C. Martens has chosen to be tried before a judge and jury. Her preliminary hearing is set for November 13, 2002. A donation of $5,000.00 US was made by the vice-chairman of an American right to die association called Hemlock Society to Evelyn Marten’s lawyers. Further information as to what Martens did or how is unavailable due to a court ordered publication ban.

It is illegal in Canada to counsel or help someone to commit suicide. Section 241 of the Criminal Code states: Everyone who (a)counsels a person to commit suicide, or (b)aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an offense and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

Disability rights advocate Hugh Scher and legal counsel to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition said: “These are criminal offenses for good reasons. Particularly, they are there to protect the vulnerable, they are there to protect the victims whose lives will be taken with or without consent.”

We need only look at Holland to know that acceptance of assisted suicide leads to non-voluntary euthanasia. The supposed safeguards in place to protect patients from being killed against their will have been proven ineffective in numerous studies. Patients have been killed without their consent. The results of a study conducted in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal found that 90% of individuals asking for help in dying change their minds. Requesting death is often a plea for help and compassion. We can do better than offer death and killing to the suffering. With scarce health resources, an aging population, quality of life arguments, the right to die will soon become the duty to die. Faye Girsh, executive director of the pro-euthanasia Hemlock Society stated in 1997: “A judicial determination should be made when it is necessary to hasten the death of an individual whether it be a demented patient, a suffering, severely disabled spouse or child.”

She later tried to retract her statement.

Action Life Online Article