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Misleading questions inflate support for assisted suicide in Canada

by | Oct 10, 2014

 

By Dave Andrusko

SCofCanada5In a few days the assisted suicide debate in Canada could take a quantum forward—or downward, from a pro-life position. The Supreme Court of Canada will hear the now famous “Carter” case. According to Margaret Somerville

“The Carter case centers on the issue of whether the Canadian Criminal Code’s prohibition of assisted suicide is unconstitutional as a breach of Charter rights to “life, liberty and security of the person” and rights against discrimination. The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled the prohibition was unconstitutional, a majority of the Court of Appeal of BC reversed that ruling as contrary to the Supreme Court of Canada precedent in the Rodriguez case where the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the prohibition as valid. The issue now is whether the Supreme Court of Canada will overrule its previous precedent.”

Writing in the Calgary Herald yesterday, columnist Susan Martinuk did a superb job debunking the results of a poll “commissioned by Dying with Dignity Canada,” a group pushing for the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide, which came up with startling results.

What results? “[T]hat 84 per cent of Canadians agree (51 per cent strongly and 33 per cent somewhat) that doctors should be able to end someone’s life if they are competent and suffering or if strong safeguards are in place.”

This is the last post of the week, so let me cut to the chase.

It is, obviously, no surprise that the poll’s results should be released just days before the court considers “Carter.” Martinuk writes, “Activist groups do it all the time, so there’s nothing wrong with it. The point is that the public should be aware (yet rarely is) of the possible political angles attached to any survey.” And there are “political angles” galore.

First and foremost—wording significantly alters responses. No one, not even Dying with Dignity Canada, could get these kinds of results unless they embedded the question in a load of cushiony assurances. Martinuk writes

“The survey question is loaded with caveats that can easily be overlooked or unrecognized by the survey taker. The 84 per cent stems from the question: ‘As long as there are strong safeguards in place, how much do you agree or disagree that a doctor should be able to help someone end their life if the person is a competent adult, who is terminally ill, suffering unbearably and repeatedly asks for assistance to die?’

“Here’s the caveat — ‘as long as there are strong safeguards in place.’ Every jurisdiction that has legalized euthanasia has done so with the perception that there were strong safeguards in place. These include such things as the patient is an adult, competent, terminally ill, makes repeated requests, experiences unbearable suffering and has consulted with at least two physicians.”

But these barriers never, ever hold, both because proponents only include them to get the laws passed, and because once the “right” is recognized, the argument is that it is discriminatory to limit the scope and sweep.

Martinuk cites examples of safeguards abandoned in Belgium and the Netherlands that familiar to readers of National Right to Life News: suicide for people who are “suffering,” who are “tired of life,” who don’t want to live without their spouse, or who are children! And that doesn’t even include “45-year-old Belgian twins who were born deaf were euthanized when glaucoma started to take their eyesight.”

Martinuk’s conclusion says it all:

“All of the above safeguards that were specifically cited in the polling question are typically ignored and the safeguard process means nothing in clinical practice. Apparently, 84 per cent of Canadians need to know that.”

Categories: Assisted Suicide