Dear Member of Parliament,
In the days ahead you will have the opportunity to speak and vote on a bill that makes watershed changes to Canadian law, medicine and society.
Bill C-7 expands euthanasia to people who are not dying and removes other critical safeguards. The Senate has proposed changes that make this deeply flawed bill even worse.
Bill C-7 allows euthanasia for people living with disability or chronic illness, but who aren’t dying. It is a tragedy that this bill is being passed, putting the lives of people with disabilities at risk and violating their equality rights. But the Senate has gone even further by introducing changes that allow euthanasia for mental illness alone and by advance request before a person has been diagnosed with an illness or disease.
People experiencing mental illness may be particularly vulnerable to thoughts of suicide. Allowing euthanasia on the basis of mental illness alone is a fundamental change that strips away an essential layer of protection for the person suffering, and a change on which the medical community is deeply divided.
The proposal for a ‘sunset clause’ on the exclusion of mental illness as a sole underlying condition, then, is deeply troubling. For Parliamentarians it is a basic duty of care to know what you are passing, what the consequences may be, and that there are appropriate and evidence-based safeguards that can protect vulnerable Canadians, if you choose to proceed.
A change so significant must not be established by default.
The parliamentary pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic last year illustrates that no one knows what future impediments may prevent parliamentary action.
Parliament commissioned the Council of Canadian Academies to study and report on the research on mental illness as the sole underlying medical condition. Its report and the committee studies of Bill C-7 have shown that there is no consensus among medical professionals on this question.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada firmly opposes hastened death, but we offer recommendations to put in place the strongest possible safeguards.
We strongly urge you to reject medical assistance in dying for mental illness alone.
Julia Beazley, Director, Public Policy
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
Author: Julia Beazley