The battle lines are being set for what promises to be highly emotional, acerbic debates in both the British and Canadian parliaments in October.
The topic: legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
In Britain, the euthanasia debate flared earlier this year after a House of Lords select committee issued a favorable report on Lord Joel Joffe?s “Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill,” a measure that would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Lords also called for a full House debate on the induced death issues.
Also earlier this year, the British Medical Association (BMA) abandoned it’s long held opposition to euthanasia/assisted suicide, and adopted a neutral stance on both practices. The vote was reportedly staged to be taken after the majority of representatives had left on the meeting’s last day. [Daily Post, 7/14/05]
Michael Cook, editor of the international bioethics newsletter, BioEdge, noted, “In short, a rigged vote by a fraction of delegates to the annual representative meeting made what is probably the most momentous decision in the BMA’s history.” [spiked-online.com, 9/05]
Outraged over the BMA’s action, the Royal College of General Practitioners, with the overwhelming support of its members, changed its position from neutral to strongly opposing any change in the law banning euthanasia. [Press Release, Royal College of General Practitioners, 9/21/05]
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has no plans to review its opposition to physician-assisted suicide, even though the Canadian Parliament will debate a euthanasia/assisted-suicide bill on October 31. [medicalpost.com, 8/9/05]
The measure, “Bill C-407,” would legalize both induced-death practices, making them available to the terminally ill and those with chronic physical and mental pain. The bill is so badly written that it allows anyone to euthanize or assist the suicide of another, as long as they are aided by a “medical practitioner,” a term not limited to physicians. “This bill seems aimed at legally enabling assisted-suicide advocacy groups to get into the business of hastening deaths,” observed Wesley J. Smith, author and attorney for the ITF. [wesleyjsmith.com web log, “Secondhand Smoke,” 7/18/05]
More on Bill C-407.
Also in October: Oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Oregon will be heard on October 5, 2005. For the latest information on this pivotal case involving the use of federally-controlled drugs to assist suicides in Oregon, see: Gonzales v. Oregon.
[International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Update, 2005, Volume 19, Number 3, 1Oct05]