Physician Assisted Suicide Advances in Canada; New Push Across the U.S.

On February 9th, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down that nation’s ban on physician-assisted suicide. The decision means that Canada will soon join several European nations (Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Netherlands) in allowing physician to prescribe and administer lethal drugs to patients, including those who are not terminally ill. The abuses of these laws have been repeatedly documented and criticized.

In the U.S., three states (Oregon, Washington, Vermont) have laws allowing physician-assisted suicide for those who are terminally ill, while two others (Montana and New Mexico) have seen their laws against the practice struck down by activist state courts. This past fall, pro-assisted suicide forces saw an opportunity to greatly expand the number of states allowing the practice by exploiting the story of Brittany Maynard, the California woman who traveled to Oregon to obtain a lethal prescription after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Using that tragedy as emotional leverage, Compassion & Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society), Death With Dignity, and other pro-death groups have succeeded in getting legislation introduced in fourteen states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, Wisconsin Wyoming) and the District of Columbia, while many other states are expected to introduce similar legislation in the coming weeks and months.

Fortunately, a broad coalition, including disability rights groups, faith-based organizations, hospital and hospice experts as well as pro-life groups, has been coalescing to oppose this latest assault on human life. Their united efforts have already seen some success: on February 7, the Colorado bill was defeated in committee.

Call to Action: Take a stand for the lives of those who are ill, disabled, and elderly. If you live in a state considering legalizing physician assisted suicide, urge your lawmakers to reject the proposal. Wherever you live, inform yourself so you can inform your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and fellow citizens.

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Oregon’s experience: