Bill C-384 and Persons with Disabilities

Author: Press Releases
Published: 2009/10/01
Peer-Reviewed: N/A
On This Page: Summary - Main Article

Synopsis: Bill C-384 would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide representing a threat to persons with disabilities. Steve Passmore, a person with a disability, will voice his opposition to Bill C-384 - the bill that would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide - and that represents a threat to persons with disabilities.


Main Digest

Steve Passmore, a person with a disability, will voice his opposition to Bill C-384 - the bill that would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide - and that represents a threat to persons with disabilities.

Steve Passmore, a person with a disability, will voice his opposition to Bill C-384 - the bill that would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide - and that represents a threat to persons with disabilities.

Mr. Passmore will be available for media interviews near the front steps of Parliament hill, Ottawa, from 12:30 - 3 pm on Friday, October 2.

His protest is based on the fact that Bill C-384 directly threatens his life and the lives of people with disabilities.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is a broadly based network of groups and individuals working to create an effective social barrier to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities recognize that Bill C-384 directly threatens the lives of people with disabilities.

For further information: Steve Passmore at: (289) 339-0718; Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: 1-877-439-3348


CASP Urges Action on Canadian National Suicide Prevention Strategy Before Parliament Considers Legislation on Assisted Suicide.

In response to the proposed legislation before the House of Commons seeking to legalize assisted suicide, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) is asking the federal government to take action and support a Canadian National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. If proposed Bill C-384 were to pass, Canada's criminal code would be amended to make provision for assisted suicide, including for people living with persistent mental pain. Suicide claims approximately 1,000,000 lives worldwide every year. Nearly 4,000 Canadian lives (more than 10 per day) are lost to this devastating and preventable form of death every year.

The World Health Organization and United Nations have called for worldwide initiatives to prevent suicide by creating and implementing national suicide prevention strategies. Canada remains one of the few industrialized countries in the world without such a strategy. CASP has created a Blueprint for a Canadian National Suicide Prevention Strategy and is eagerly looking forward to partnering with federal and provincial governments in creating a uniquely Canadian strategy.

"Most people who die by suicide experience intense feelings of sadness and emotional pain, and feel hopeless about that pain ever diminishing. The many added stressors in peoples' lives may diminish their capacity to cope, lower their resiliency, and increase their vulnerability to thoughts of suicide," Tim Wall, Executive Director of CASP said. "What is especially tragic is that suicide can be prevented with compassion, understanding, and access to appropriate services. In fact, most people who are suffering and at risk for suicide can recover and experience a life that is meaningful, hopeful, and satisfying,"

Marion Cooper, President of CASP adds, "Assisted suicide is a complex issue for which there is no easy answer. It is our belief and one shared by our partners in mental and public health services that before we start a national conversation on assisted suicide we must first begin a national conversation for preventing suicide, and join our neighbors in the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and many European nations in creating a national suicide prevention strategy."

CASP stands ready to take the lead in such a critical conversation, joining in partnership with federal and provincial governments and other interested professional associations and community advocacy groups. CASP does not take a position for or against assisted suicide rather, is focused on suicide prevention.

The goal for CASP is to have the federal government take specific and direct action on suicide prevention as an important public health issue.

"Let us take the opportunity to learn from the experiences of those who have traveled this route before, and not simply try to legislate death as an alternative to human suffering," psychologist and CASP Vice President Dr. Marnin Heisel said.

Research suggests that requests for assisted suicide, where legal, are not being made to alleviate intractable pain and suffering so much as to stave off fears of loss of control, autonomy, and physical functioning. Appropriate interventions could thus involve mental health care to alleviate fears of loss of control and assist in finding meaning in one's circumstances, pain management to alleviate physical pain, and rehabilitation to enhance functioning.

Heisel notes that the legislation proposed in Bill C-384 could paradoxically restrict personal freedom in the guise of enhancing it. Subtly suggesting that those with physical challenges and/or mental disorders consider suicide to alleviate their perceived burden on society creates a slippery slope and threatens core Canadian values of social conscience and preservation of human dignity.

For more information on CASP's Blue Print for a National Suicide Prevention Strategy go to


Council of Canadians with Disabilities Opposes Euthanasia Bill C-384

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) today issued a release saying that it believes that Canadians who supports disability rights should oppose Bill C-384, which would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide and "put Canadians with disabilities at risk." CCD is a national human rights organization of persons with disabilities.

C-384, the private member's bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada, received its first reading last month. Bill C-384 was introduced by Bloc Quebecois Member of Parliament Francine Lalonde. This is Lalonde's third attempt to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

"Called the 'Right to Die with Dignity' Act, this bill threatens the lives of Canadians with disabilities. Its selling points are the notions of 'dignity,' and 'suffering.' However, the bill never explains what these terms mean," said Rhonda Weibe, Co-Chair of CCD's Ending of Life Ethics Committee.

"How do we measure dignity? What is suffering

"These terms are based more on social values than scientific ones, but this bill proposes that a 'medical' and 'legal' solution be the remedy for people whose lives are not 'dignified' and who 'suffer.'"

"Living without dignity and suffering are common mis-perceptions that able-bodied Canadians have about the lives of their fellow citizens with disabilities," stated Dean Richert, Co-Chair of CCD's Ending of Life Ethics Committee. "Bill C-384 does nothing to protect those who find themselves socially devalued in these ways."

The organization wrote in its press release that, "Assisted suicide is not a free choice as long as they are denied adequate healthcare, affordable personal assistance in their communities, and equal access to social structures and systems."




Contacting your MP to express your views on Bill C-384 may be the most effective method of ensuring this bill does not become law in Canada.


Please write letters! Write them to your local paper, national papers, spiritual leaders in your community, your local doctor or medical centers. Watch for articles in the news on the issues of suicide, palliative care, the elderly or disabled and use the opportunity to write a letter in response that will help educate the public about assisted suicide and euthanasia. There is great confusion on this issue in Canada. Help your local community understand what is at stake by bringing the debate forward and offering information on the issues.

Some points to remember:

Refusing or withdrawing life-prolonging treatment when dying a natural death is not assisted suicide/euthanasia. There is nothing wrong with letting death occur naturally when treatment is no longer effective. This does NOT include withdrawing food or fluids. Providing food and water is basic care that under no circumstances should be withdrawn unless the body is no longer able to absorb nutrients due to imminent death. "Quality of life" considerations should never be a factor food and water is a basic human right for every living person.

Nearly 4,000 Canadians die by suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young Canadians age 15-34. The leading cause of hospitalization in this age group is mental disorder"Bill C-384 would significantly increase the risk of suicide among young people suffering mental illness. Suicide is the leading cause of death among First Nations communities. Canada does not have a national suicide prevention strategy in place.


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