The Dying with Dignity (DWD) poll was quoted, yet again, in this article that appears to make it look like Catholics are divided on the issue of assisted suicide. While Catholic leadership my differ on strategy when it comes to handling this catastrophe brought about by our Supreme Court, they do not differ, as the title suggests, on the issue.
That said, I am really tired of seeing this short-sighted DWD poll on assisted suicide being lauded as an absolute authority.
LifeCanada has for years, since 2002 to be precise, polled Canadians on the “life issues.” In 2009 we began polling on the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia, and our results have been consistent over the years. High percentages of Canadians are either concerned or “very concerned” about the possible abuse of the vulnerable, should legalization occur.
Unless one is prepared to ask the hard questions, people come away with a rosy-coloured picture of the issue. The DWD supporters clap each other on the back at the prospect of introducing ‘doctor death’ into our healthcare system with nary a thought to the possible consequences.
Are Canadians concerned that the vulnerable will be pressured to end their lives? Are they concerned that those with suicidal tendencies will not get the help they need? Are they worried for themselves, when they become elderly, alone and an expense to the health care system? Are they worried that objecting physicians will be liable to professional discipline or censorship? The answer is a resounding “yes”.
In 2013 LifeCanada and the Canadian Institute for Education on the Family sponsored an 11-question poll that focused exclusively on Quebec. This poll conducted by Abingdon Research, was commissioned just before Bill 52 was legalized in the province, allowing euthanasia in Canada for the first time.
We wanted to know if citizens of Quebec knew what the term “medical aid in dying” meant, because that was the terminology being thrown around in the Province at that time. We also wanted to know what their support for euthanasia was before we asked the hard questions and after.
The results were that “less than a third (31%) correctly know what the phrase “medical aid in dying means. Nearly a third (27%) think it is some sort of palliative care. This is a term that gains the concept more support.”
When asked without any definition of the concept if they supported “medical aid in dying” nearly three quarters (74%) supported it and only 12% opposed it.
When asked if they support it after a balanced description of Bill 52, there is only a tiny shift away from support. Support drops by 2%, but opposition grows by 5% to 17% overall.
As an aside, when given the two options of “pain relief” or “lethal injection” and asked what the priority for the health care system should be, 57% said pain relief.
But the really hard questions involve precisely the reasons why assisted suicide has always been prohibited.
- Concerned that a significant number of sick, elderly, disabled, or mentally ill persons might eventually be killed without their consent? Overall: 82%
- Concerned that otherwise healthy disabled people in Quebec may eventually seek to be killed through “medical aid in dying” due to being disabled? Overall: 75%
- Concerned that people with mental illness may eventually seek to be killed through “medical aid in dying” instead of obtaining the help they need? Overall: 83%
- Concerned that some elderly people in abusive situations in Quebec may eventually be pressured to accept“medical aid in dying”? Overall: 84%
- Concerned that some elderly people in Quebec may eventually feel pressured to accept “medical aid in dying,” in order to avoid being a burden on the health care system? Overall: 76%
And here is the clincher: After being exposed to the list of concerns, respondents were asked again what they think Quebec’s government should do about “medical aid in dying.” They were given the choices of legalization, not letting it be legalized and sending it for further study. “A strong plurality (47%) believed it requires further study,while only 35% believed in legalization.”
Ultimately the questions around assisted suicide and euthanasia should be about the effect of such a law on the vulnerable, the aged, the disabled, the mentally incompetent. Will their lives be protected? Will they be able to fend for themselves in a medical culture that offers death as a remedy to suffering?
It is appalling that Dying With Dignity never even raises the issue. Where is their concern for these huge segments of our society?by