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It Did Not Pass

April 23, 2010

An update to the proposed Bill-C384, in case you have not heard.

It was voted down by an overwhelming majority of parliament.  (228-59)

I am pleased. I am still somewhat conflicted, but I am pleased.

This article, and this one,  pretty much cover everything I need to say.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2010 11:27 pm

    Heavy subject. I would like the right to ask for assisted death if I was in more pain than I wished to bear without hope of recovery/terminal. I don’t want the doctor to make the decision for me, I want to be able to make it for myself. So if they can word a bill that way I would vote yes for it.

    • April 24, 2010 12:57 pm

      Lynn, I am not opposed in principle to the right of someone to choose what is right for them. But consider that choice can be forced on you. What if it were legal in your state, and you were terminally ill. With treatment, you could live two more years, relatively pain free and active. No illusions, you WILL die within two years. The letter arrives from your insurance company. Your treatment is extremely expensive. They will not cover it. They inform you however that costs associated with euthanasia will be fully paid for. Not wanting to bankrupt your family, you are faced with a “choice”. But is it really a choice?

  2. April 29, 2010 2:31 pm

    Don’t think this means I’m not posting my support of the bill. I just.. need.. time… and I need to stop making it a big ol’ emotional thing, too.

  3. April 29, 2010 7:25 pm


    Just two short points this time.

    1) Insurance companies in the US already do exactly what you describe. They deny coverage, sometimes in blatant disregard for the stated coverage in the policy, due to expense. When the denial is for treatment someone needs to survive, they die or bankrupt themselves and family attempting to pay. The effort to codify and add to the Canadian system of laws a right to die isn’t directly connected to what insurance companies will or will not do. Your nightmare is already happening in the US.

    2) Painting the decision as leading to a slippery slope which will end in coercion to convince people to pull their own plugs is in direct conflict with the facts as they are experienced (at least to date) in the states in my country where assisted suicide is legal. When faced with what people have actually done vs. arguments as to what they might do, I always take the evidence over the story. In Oregon, the number of suicides has held relatively steady at under 20 per 10,000 deaths in the state for more than 15 years. That’s one person choosing to die among more than 500 people dying in Oregon. No acceleration in usage over the years since 1994. The people of the state have declined efforts to rescind the law, and by a much larger majority than when it was first passed.

    Am I arguing Canada should have such a law? Not at all! Canadians should get to decide, and in this specific case, their elected officials decided. It is quite clear that the bill offered was hugely less specific and thought-out when compared to the Oregon bill 16 years ago. In other words, your concerns are valid, Syl, and this bill deserved to fail.

    • May 5, 2010 10:08 pm

      Rick, to your point on facts over story. It’s far to early in the game to use Oregon as a measuring stick. Sift through the data for the Netherlands and let me know what you think.

      • May 7, 2010 10:09 am


        While I heartily agree that it is unwise to make any decisions based solely on evidence as scant as that from Oregon, it is also true that what evidence there is, is at least real. It’s not anyone’s idea of what might come to pass–it includes statistics which are of some use. Not definitive, but “definitive” is a qualitative judgment to begin with.

        I think the Oregon numbers are meaningful.

        The Netherlands has officially allowed physician-assisted suicide for a shorter period of time than has Oregon. Their law took effect in 2002. The latest stats I could easily locate show that folks in Holland are much more likely to take the “I quit” path than are Americans who live in Oregon. A bit more than 1% of the deaths in the Netherlands were due to suicide. That’s five times the rate in Oregon.

        I was not able to find any data on trending, which would have been of even less value than Oregon trending since the span of time is roughly half that of Oregon’s.

        Were I to guess, I think the numbers are higher in Holland because they have had a tradition in that country of allowing, unofficially, what they now allow by law.

        I also would guess that the 1% of deaths stat will not change dramatically over time.

        One note which certainly supports your contention that, once life has been allowed to be devalued in the manner we are talking about, it will be further devalued: there is a citizen initiative in Holland to allow anyone over the age of 70 to ask and be granted an easy and pain-free death simply because they have decided they don’t want to live any longer. This is a dramatic change from their current law, which has requirements in place much as does Oregon for the person to be at the end of life and be in a state of extreme suffering before they qualify for assisted suicide.

        No word on whether they have gathered enough support to actually bring the idea to a vote, but the fact that it is a well-publicized effort is indication of a good bit of support.

        I cannot imagine something like that even being proposed in Oregon, but who knows? Maybe it will come to that in a decade or two. It would not be a change I could support.

  4. Mary A permalink
    May 5, 2010 9:53 pm

    Articulate articles and thought provoking articles, your two and the link to Oregon’s FAQs. Thanks for posting.

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