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Ontario judge extends terminal definition for euthanasia to a woman with osteoarthritis

by | Jul 20, 2017

By Alex Schadenberg Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Justice Paul Perrell

Justice Paul Perrell

Recently I wrote about “Canada’s euthanasia law – one year later,“ showing how the euthanasia law is being extended in Canada at a record pace.

In June 2016, Canada’s federal government legalized euthanasia in Bill C-14 with imprecise terminology.

From my first reading of C-14, I was convinced that the government intentionally used imprecise language to enable the expansion of euthanasia, without facing political pressure from passing a wide-open euthanasia law.

For instance, the government claimed to be restricting euthanasia to terminally ill people. C-14 stated that a person’s: “natural death must be reasonably foreseeable.”

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition urged politicians to amend this definition because it lacked meaning while the euthanasia lobby lobbied politicians to remove this definition because it was “too restrictive.”

Last month, Justice Paul Perrell approved death by lethal injection for a 77-year-old woman with osteoarthritis, (known as AB) since doctors had refused to kill her because she is not terminally ill.

According to a Toronto Star article written by Alyshah Hasham, Justice Perrell stated:

To be reasonably foreseeable, the person’s natural death doesn’t have to be imminent or within a specific time frame or be the result of a terminal condition.

“The legislation is intended to apply to a person who is “on a trajectory toward death because he or she a) has a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability; b) is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability; and c) is enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable,”

AB’s case clearly qualifies as she is an “almost 80-year-old woman in an advanced stated of incurable, irreversible, worsening illness with excruciating pain and no quality of life,”

In other words, people who are not terminally ill are terminally ill.

The Toronto Star article also stated that, according to Justice Perrell, there is no fear that the court will be over-run with death. “In the decision, Perrell said that his declaration would not interfere with prosecutorial discretion as argued by the Crown and will not exempt a medical professional from following the criteria laid out in the legislation,” Hasham wrote.

“All the court can do in the circumstances of the immediate case is to clarify what Parliament meant in (the legislation) so the Physician-1 and other physicians have no misunderstanding about how to comply with the legislation,” Perrell said “There is no floodgates concern because the court need do this only once for whatever benefit it may provide to AB and others.”

Meanwhile, two people in British Columbia are challenging the “terminal definition” in the law, two people in Montreal are challenging the “terminal definition” in the euthanasia law . and Dr. Yves Robert, Secretary of the Collège des médecins du Québec, and a long-time supporter of euthanasia, is questioning the expansion of the law.

According to legal experts, the Perrell decision only applies to Ontario.

For now.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Euthanasia