Safeguards for physician-assisted dying must include access to palliative care
and protection of conscience rights: Alberta Senator Betty Unger

OTTAWA – February 25, 2016 – Alberta Senator Betty Unger today expressed concern that the Report of the Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying did not include appropriate safeguards.  Most notably, the report fails to incorporate guaranteed access to palliative care, protection for the vulnerable including those who suffer from mental illness, and protection of conscience rights for physicians and medical workers.

“The intent of the Charter is to protect the rights and freedoms of all Canadians, yet in the Committee’s haste to promote the rights of a few they trample on the rights of many,” noted Unger. “And incredibly, the Committee contemplates children as young as twelve being eligible for physician-assisted death (PAD).”

“In the face of PAD, the availability of palliative care is not an option, it is an obligation,” Unger said. “Something is terribly wrong when the government does more to guarantee that the living can die, than to ensure that the dying can live.”

“As a devout Catholic, I am personally opposed to physician-assisted dying. However, with the Supreme Court’s ruling it is my responsibility, along with all parliamentarians, to ensure that adequate safeguards are in place and conscience rights are protected,” Unger said. “I hope that the government will do the right thing and ensure that these essential elements are reflected in their legislation.”

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Craig Docksteader
Parliamentary Affairs Advisor
Office of Senator Betty Unger