VALLEYFIELD, QC, Feb. 1, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - While Quebec marks suicide prevention week from February 2-8, disability rights activists believe Bill 52, which would allow euthanasia of ill and disabled people, undermines the public policy of suicide prevention.
"There is a striking contradiction here," said Amy Hasbrouck, Director of Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet. "As a society we're saying some people should be prevented from killing themselves, while another group should be killed if they ask for it." Hasbrouck believes this difference comes from fear, prejudice and discrimination. She believes equality for ill and disabled people means that everyone deserves aggressive efforts to prevent their deaths.
The Québec Association for Suicide Prevention has launched its annual awareness campaign "You're Important to Us" to draw attention to the 1,000 suicides that occur each year in the province. Living with Dignity, which opposes bill 52, estimates that, within a decade, there could be 600-1,000 additional deaths per year should the euthanasia law be approved in February.
Bill 52 was filed on June 12 of 2013 and would allow passive euthanasia ("continuous palliative sedation") and active euthanasia ("medical aid in dying") for Québec residents who have incurable illnesses and physical or psychological suffering. An amendment to the bill requires that the person be at the "end of life," though the term is undefined.
"When such 'benefits' are only available to a particular group, what does that say about the value that society puts on our lives if we are old, ill or disabled?" she asks.
Hasbrouck notes that, though more than 90% of suicide attempts fail, bill 52 would guarantee such wishes of ill and disabled people would result in death. "What about the right to cry for help?" she said.
SOURCE: Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet
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