Canadian Physicians Disappointed with New Assisted Suicide & Euthanasia Bill
Doctors and legal counsel available for comment on new assisted suicide and euthanasia bill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2106
OTTAWA - Physicians are expressing concern for Canadians as the federal government introduces its bill on assisted suicide and euthanasia today.
While the draft law does not permit advance directives, or access to assisted suicide or euthanasia for mature minors or for those for whom mental illness is the sole reason for requesting the procedures, all Canadians remain vulnerable to abuses under the draft legislation.
“This bill is seriously deficient,” explains Dr. Will Johnston, President of Canadian Physicians for Life. “The federal government is at risk of botching its last chance at harm reduction in the problems of assisted suicide and euthanasia. There is no necessary waiting period. You don’t have to be dying, your death just has to be "foreseeable" - a term which is not defined in the bill. Further, an heir to your will can make a written request on your behalf.”
“This bill does nothing to preserve a safe space for those patients who want to remain untouched by assisted suicide and euthanasia,” states Dr. Johnston.
There does appear to be a requirement for physicians, nurse practitioners and pharmacists to participate in the procedure, even if doing so violates their conscience and professional judgement.
“The bill provides no protection for conscientious objectors. In fact it compels them to be part of the chain of events leading up to a person’s death,” explains Albertos Polizogopoulos, a constitutional lawyer who represents Canadian Physicians for Life. “Absent explicit protections for health practitioners’ conscience rights, the bill violates their Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms right to freedom of conscience.”
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The following persons are available for interviews and to provide commentary to the media:
Dr. Will Johnston, President, Canadian Physicians for Life
Will Johnston practises full service family medicine and obstetrics. He is the Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of BC and President of Canadian Physicians for Life. After first working in emergency rooms, he started a family practice in Vancouver in 1985. This practice continues to provide the real life context to his conviction that killing people of any age or size will always be the wrong way to solve problems.
He is a much sought after speaker and commentator on the matters of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Albertos Polizogopoulos, Constitutional Lawyer associated with Canadian Physicians for Life
Albertos appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada for a number of interveners in the Carter v. Canada case. He provides legal counsel to CPL's members on their conscience rights and is representing CPL in a legal challenge of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario's conscience rights policies.
Albertos is a Partner in a full-service law firm in Ottawa, Ontario. He regularly appears before courts and appellate courts including the Supreme Court of Canada to advocate for his clients’ rights to freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of conscience.
Dr. Ryan Wilson, Vice-President, Canadian Physicians for Life
Ryan Wilson is currently an R1 in Family Medicine and the Vice President of Canadian Physicians for Life. He earned his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from the University of Calgary and completed medical school at UBC in 2015. He currently lives in Prince George, BC, with his wife and two children.
Natasha Fernandes, Board Member, Canadian Physicians for Life
Natasha Fernandes is a 2016 MD candidate and a Canadian Physicians for Life board member. She writes and speaks frequently on end-of-life issues.