By Malin Jordan
I often hear people state emphatically, "the debate is closed," or "we don't want to re-open the debate."
In the abortion context, what they say is untrue, a lie in fact, as there has never been a debate in this country over abortion - and certainly no law was passed declaring it legal.
There was simply a court decision that the existing law was unconstitutional. But big media - the networks and the daily papers - went along with the straw-man argument nevertheless.
But what about euthanasia? The debate there is actually closed. Parliament has ruled against euthanasia legislation several times, and yet we don't hear pundits declaring that debate closed.
It's been three weeks since the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that laws outlawing physician-assisted suicide are unconstitutional - the same scenario that happened over abortion in 1988.
Now what? Will the government wring its hands this time too?
Responses to the ruling came quickly.
One of the swiftest, and most articulate, responses challenging the ruling came from our own shepherd, Archbishop Miller, when he called the ruling "extremely flawed and dangerous." His succinct response said the judgment "sadly reflects a distorted view of equality rights that emphasizes autonomy over human dignity and the value of life." Simple enough.
The archbishop added, "true liberty means the freedom to live one's life secure in the knowledge that those who care for us are dedicated to the service of life, not the taking of life."
Vancouver doctor Williard Johnston, president of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of B.C., summed up the inanity of the ruling by writing, "The judge adopts what my experience tells me is a delusion: that a bright enough line can be drawn between those with identifiable physical ailments who want to die - candidates for "acceptable" assisted suicide - and those who are just depressed or psychotic."
In favour of the ruling was pundit Matt Gurney, with a misguided argument that naively stated, "It seems far-fetched to think (abuses) would happen in Canada."
But overwhelming evidence from Switzerland and the Netherlands proves again and again that even with the best intentions people are being killed against their will. Does Gurney think Canadians are cut from a higher moral cloth than the Swiss or Dutch?
Parliament has rejected pro-euthanasia legislation several times over a number of years, but most recently in April 2010 by a 228 to 59 margin - an overwhelming majority vote.
Also, parliamentary committees studying the issue have repeatedly rejected euthanasia while calling for improved hospice and palliative care, and as recently as last year.
So the debate is actually closed. Elected legislators have spoken on behalf of the people who elected them. Repeatedly. Why then is an unelected, activist judge ruling against the wishes of Canadians? Invoking harebrained interpretations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms isn't rendering judgment - it's activism.
The debate is closed. It's time judges and vociferous minority activists got that message, and it's time Big Media started reporting the facts on this issue, not the emotions (the opposite of what they do now).
The Criminal Code already outlaws assisted killing. The government now needs to fight this "extremely flawed and dangerous" ruling and overturn it.
If they lose at the Supreme Court, the next step would be to tighten up existing legislation to prevent, as Dr. Johnston says, "the loopholes being used to pervert the Charter."