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Bill C-7: Snatching right to life | Harsh Tuteja

Monday, October 04, 2021 @ 8:29 AM | By Harsh Tuteja


Harsh Tuteja %>
Harsh Tuteja
Canada, which currently holds the title for as the best country for quality of life, attracts people from all over the world. Millions of people dream to settle here and live the Canadian dream. They even sacrifice their lives in the home country and exhaust a large amount of hard-earned money in hope of a better, safe and happy life.

The country is famous for its pleasing scenery and immigrant-friendly nature. The views of its immaculate and natural environment are breathtaking, it has universal health care where no one in need is turned away; the people seem polite, friendly and loving. To many, life seems paradisical. But something is coming that doesn’t really go well with what I perceive as Canadian values.

Recently a bill seeking to amend the Criminal Code, Bill C-7, dated March 17, 2021, has become the talk of the town. It contains clause (a) that states “repeal the provision that requires a person’s natural death be reasonably foreseeable in order for them to be eligible for medical assistance in dying”;

It abolishes the need for a person’s natural death to be anticipated to be eligible for medical assistance in dying. Earlier this had to be the last option for chronically ill patients. In medical science there is a process by which treatment is done; one can’t just straight away take extreme steps. For example, if you have tooth pain, your dentist won’t immediately suggest a root canal; they might try antibiotics and/or other remedies to reduce the pain and choose such dire treatment only if it is necessary. By this system physicians were held accountable for their practices to ensure that the patients are treated to their needs and with utmost sincerity.

Also, clause (e) states “permit medical assistance in dying to be provided to a person who has lost the capacity to consent to it as a result of the self-administration of a substance that was provided to them under the provisions governing medical assistance in dying in order to cause their own death.”

That means that a person who has attempted suicide by consuming some harmful substance which has caused him such a disability that he has lost the ability to consent for medical assistance in dying could be provided with medical assistance in dying. So what about the person’s family members? Does their consent hold no value? Isn’t it obvious that one shall at least take the consent of the family members of such a person before ending his life?

I strongly believe these laws should be amended further where clause (a) should be scrapped and clause (e) should be amended in a way where consent of the family members of the patient or care giver should be necessary.

Three experts, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, have said such legislation tends to be based on “ableist” assumptions about the quality and worth of the life of a person with a disability. Article 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, says: “States Parties reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.”

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, and the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights have sent a formal letter to the Canadian government related to the human rights violations foreseeable if Bill C-7 (medical assistance in dying), designed to expand access to people with disabilities who are not dying, is officially made a law.

The letter concluded, “In sum, we are deeply concerned that the eligibility criteria set out in Bill C-7… may be of a discriminatory nature, or have a discriminatory impact, as by singling out the suffering associated with disability as being of a different quality and kind than any other suffering, they potentially subject persons with disabilities to discrimination on account of such disability.”

Canadians and people all over the world should get concerned about this trend to provide the right to death. No life is so bad it should be abandoned. Laws were meant to protect freedom and inculcate moral values. This loosens the grip of law over the right to life and isn’t pro life.

Harsh Tuteja is a second year law student from Indore, India, and is planning to immigrate to Canada to practise law. You can reach him at hrxt01@gmail.com or follow him on LinkedIn.

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