Saturday, June 11, 2016

Media Release: Carter has been proved wrong; new law needed to prohibit assisted suicide & euthanasia

FRIDAY, MAY 20, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Canada’s Bill C-14, which seeks to codify assisted suicide and euthanasia, is a recipe for elder abuse. Recommendations by the Senate Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee do not solve the bill’s problems. The bill violates the Canadian Supreme Court case, Carter v Canada.  

Recent news stories have proven Carter wrong. This justifies a new look at the issue, including time for more study or a new law prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Press Release: Bill C-14 is a Recipe for Elder Abuse & Contrary to the Carter Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For pdf, click here. 

Dore:  "Canada’s Bill C-14, which seeks to codify assisted suicide and euthanasia, is a recipe for elder abuse.”

“The bill is contrary to the Canadian Supreme Court case, Carter v Canada, which envisioned a ‘carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards.’”

Contact: Margaret Dore:   (206) 697-1217
margaretdore@margaretdore.com

Ottawa, ON - Lawyer Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, which has been fighting efforts to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United States, Canada and other countries, made the following statement in connection with Canada’s Bill C-14, which seeks to codify assisted suicide and euthanasia into law.

"The bill refers to assisted suicide and euthanasia as 'medical assistance in dying,' but there is no requirement that a person be dying,” said Dore. “‘Eligible’ persons may have years, even decades, to live.”

Dore said, "The bill is a recipe for elder abuse. The patient's heir, who will financially benefit from the patient's death, is allowed to actively participate in signing the patient up for the lethal dose. There is no oversight over administration." Dore elaborated, "In the case of assisted suicide, not even a doctor or other medically trained person is required to be present at the death.  If the patient struggled, who would know?"

“The bill is a response to the Canadian Supreme Court decision, Carter v. Canada, which found a right to assisted suicide and euthanasia for ‘competent’ adults who ‘clearly consent,’” said Dore. The bill, however, does not comply with these requirements. Dore explained, “The bill does not even use the word ‘competent,’ except in the bill’s preamble, which does not have force of law. The bill violates Carter, which requires that the patient be a ‘competent adult.’”

Carter also envisioned  a ‘carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards,’” said Dore. “This would at the very least require oversight when the lethal dose is administered to the patient. The bill does not do so. There is also no required monitoring or investigation after the patient’s death.”

Dore explained, “The bill contains one reference to ‘monitoring,’ saying that the Minister of Health ‘may’ make regulations ‘for the purpose of monitoring deaths’ under the bill.’ Saying that regulations ‘may’ be made does not constitute a ‘carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards.’ The bill does not comply with Carter.”

“Under current law, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act requires that all inmate deaths be investigated,” said Dore. “Bill C-14, however, amends the Act to create an exception for inmates who die by assisted suicide or euthanasia, to thereby discourage investigations.” Dore continued, “With existing investigations discouraged, the idea of a ‘carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards’ is undermined. Carter is once again violated.”

Dore added, “The bill also amends the Pension Act and the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-Establishment Act to deem that any deaths occurring via assisted suicide and euthanasia be treated as a result of an ‘illness, disease or disability.” Dore  said, “The significance is a legal inability to prosecute criminal behavior, for example, in the case of an outright murder for the money. The cause of death, as a matter of law, is  an ‘illness, disease or disability.’ The bill thereby creates the perfect crime.”

“Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ‘everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice,’” said Dore. “It is not fundamentally just to allow people to be killed for their money or due to another bad motive under a regime that has no required oversight at the death, no required monitoring and which deems deaths to be the result of an ‘illness, disease or disability,’ as a matter of law, to thereby prevent prosecution.” Dore concluded, “The bill, which creates the perfect crime, must be a violation of the Charter.”

For more information, see:

1.  Margaret Dore, Legal/Policy Analysis of Bill C-14, prepared for Prime Minister Trudeau and Members of the Senate and the House of Commons, May 15, 2016.  View herehere and here. 

2.  Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009.

3.  Nina Shapiro, "Terminal Uncertainty: Washington’s new ‘Death With Dignity’ law allows doctors to help people commit suicide-once they’ve determined that the patient has only six months to live. But what if they’re wrong?" The Seattle Weekly, 01/14/09, available at https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/terminal-uncertainty-w-o-ad.pdf

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

"No" on Bill C-14 and Carter; No Assisted Suicide; No Euthanasia

I was happy to see the CBC article concerning your reluctance to endorse Bill C-14. You are right to be concerned.

Robert-Falcon Oulette, MP

I am a lawyer in Washington State USA where assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal. Bill C-14 and legalization generally will encourage people with years to live to throw away their lives. Carter was wrong. Legalization does not promote the right to life.

Please consider the following reasons:


1.  The bill's title, "medical assistance in dying," implies that eligible people are dying. There is no requirement that people be dying. They are instead required to have a "grievous and irremediable medical condition." See Bill C-14, § 241.2(2).

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Carter Decision: Not Safe for Doctors


The Carter decision has been heralded as legalizing "physician-assisted death," more commonly known as physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.  A closer reading of the decision reveals, however, that these practices are not "legalized" in the sense that they are safe for doctors to perform.  This will be the case until the expiration of a 12 month suspension AND the imposition of regulations by parliament to create safe harbors for practice. 

Carter merely provides that the Criminal Code provisions prohibiting physician-assisted death are of no force or effect when three factors are satisfied: patient competency; clear consent; and a "grievous and irremediable medical condition."  (Decision, paragraph 147).  The problem is that physicians are not always right regarding these factors.

Consider, the Victorio Noval case, in California, where a hospital performed a "terminal extubation," causing his death.  http://legalstuff.kaiserpapers.org/victorino-noval.html  After the fact, the hospital learned that Noval's daughters had lied about his condition for the purpose of a quick inheritance, and that consent from his son had been required, but not obtained. Id.  The hospital and other parties have now been sued.  Id.  Hospital staff are reportedly refusing to testify in order to avoid incriminating themselves on criminal charges.Id.

If, by contrast, Noval had died under a regulatory scheme such as Washington's death with dignity act, there would have been no basis for liability as long as the act was used.  See e.g., Washington State's death certificate instruction for prosecutors, which requires that a death be treated as "Natural" as long as the act was "used."  To view the instruction, please click here.
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Without the imposition of a similar regulatory scheme by Parliament, no doctor who assists a suicide, or who performs a euthanasia, can be assured of his or her safety to do so.  Even after the 12 month suspension period, doctors will be at risk of homicide charges because, like the hospital in  Mr. Noval's case, they learn after the fact that they were wrong on the facts of the case.  
Doctors go forward under Carter at their peril.