As assisted suicide continues to rise in Ontario, pro-lifers call for government action

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As cases of assisted suicide continue to increase annually in Ontario, pro-life advocates have called on the government to implement laws to help stem the tide of medically facilitated death.

"The numbers keep going up, and they will continue going up unless more people speak out about this and demand our politicians step back and reconsider what we are doing as a country," said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, according to The Catholic Register.

According to a new statistic from Ontario's chief coroner, The Catholic Register reported, 2,378 patients participated in medical assistance in dying's (MAiD) in 2020. Schadenberg said the number increases yearly, noting that 1,789 people were killed in 2019, 1,499 in 2018, 841 in 2017, and 189 in 2016.

About 7,000 Ontario residents have ended their lives through MAiD since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled euthanasia to be legal nationwide in 2016. Ontario residents have made up about half of the 14,000 assisted suicide patients across the country.

In 2019, Quebec's Supreme Court ruled that requiring death to be "reasonably foreseeable" in assisted suicide cases was unconstitutional. The court said the government must update its laws to reflect this ruling by Feb. 26, 2021.

In response, the federal government introduced Bill C-7, which would remove a reasonably foreseeable death from the criteria necessary to qualify for legal assisted suicide. The law would still prohibit assisted suicide for patients who have only mental illnesses and not physical illnesses.

The bill passed through the House of Commons by a two-to-one margin on December 10. It still needs the approval of the Senate, however the government is required by Feb. 26 to bring federal law on assisted suicide in line with the Quebec Superior Court's 2019 ruling that requiring death to be "reasonably foreseeable" for assisted suicide is unconstitutional.

"The Canadian government must reject Bill C-7 and begin the promised five-year review of the euthanasia law with an open view to what is actually happening rather than continuing to expand euthanasia, making Canada the most permissive euthanasia regime in the world," Schadenberg said, according to The Catholic Register.

Other pro-life advocates, such as the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, have repeatedly challenged the government to upgrade and promote palliative care options instead of assisted suicide laws.

In a Dec. 18 statement, the bishops said it is not too late for the government to reconsider the bill. A study conducted by Angus Reid Group and Cardus, the bishops said, found that a large portion of Canadians are afraid that the "health care system will start to ignore long-term care and chronic disease in the elderly as MAiD becomes more available."

"The Catholic Bishops of Canada remain steadfastly opposed to all forms of euthanasia and assisted suicide. We are especially concerned by the accelerated and reckless pace in which the Government is attempting to pass Bill C-7. Despite the numerous warnings by disability organizations and physicians about the devastating consequences of Bill C-7," they said.

"We are encouraging the Catholic faithful of Canada, other religious communities, and all people of goodwill to become better informed on the content and grave moral implications of Bill C-7, and to address their objections and concerns directly to their local member of Parliament and the members of the Senate."

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