Friday, February 6, 2015

Canada's legalization of assisted suicide poses dangers for Minnesotans, MCCL warns

The following news release was issued on Feb. 6, 2015.

MINNEAPOLIS — Today's decision by the Supreme Court of Canada to legalize assisted suicide poses multiple dangers to Minnesotans, according to Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). Legal assisted suicide across the state's northern border puts the lives of disabled, ill and elderly citizens in danger.

"The Canadian Supreme Court ruling creates a situation ripe for abuse, and MCCL stands with our friends across the border who are against assisted suicide," said MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach.

When assisted suicide is legalized it is a deadly mix with our profit-driven health care system and opens us all to:

• Abuse: Abuse of people with disabilities, and elder abuse. An heir or abusive caregiver may steer someone towards assisted suicide, witness the request, pick up the lethal dose, and even give the drug.

• Mistakes: Diagnoses of terminal illness are too often wrong, leading people to give up on treatment and lose good years of their lives.

• Carelessness: People with a history of depression and suicide attempts have received the lethal drugs.

• Contagion: Assisted suicide is a contagion and can increase suicide rates for all populations.

• PTSD: Stress disorder rates increase for family and friends who participate in a suicide.

In practice, assisted suicide in Canada can impact Minnesota. State residents have been ordering medications from Canadian pharmacies for years. Now that lethal drugs will be available from those pharmacies, Minnesotans may have access to them.

Suicide tourism represents an additional threat. Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, has become a destination for suicidal Europeans. About one-third of assisted suicide victims in Switzerland are foreigners, most with non-fatal diseases.

Alex Schadenberg, an international anti-assisted suicide expert from London, Ontario, is the featured speaker at MCCL's 2015 Legislative Dinner on Wednesday, Feb. 11, in St. Paul. He will discuss the impact of today's Supreme Court ruling on Minnesota, and explain why efforts to legalize assisted suicide in the state would put vulnerable lives in danger.