Alex Schadenberg’s has been speaking out against euthanasia at meetings since 1999.
He was in Smithers Friday night to explain his concerns to about 100 people at the Canadian Reformed Church. The executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition based out of London, Ont. has travelled all over the world to speak on the subject.
Schadenberg started the coalition during the Robert Latimer trial, a case where the Saskatchewan father killed his daughter who was suffering from cerebral palsy.
“I have an autistic son, and I’ve been involved in this a very long time. I got involved through the disability question.
“I was involved in other things, but why this issue is attitudes towards people with disabilities,” explained Schadenberg.
He pointed out that the Council of Canadians with Disabilities has also voiced its concerns on the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in February that said current laws against assisted suicide and euthanasia must be replaced within a year.
Betty Bandstra said she invited Schadenberg as the case was still before the B.C. Supreme Court last fall.
“We didn’t realize just how timely it would be,” said Bandstra, who found the presentation informative.
Oregon legalized assisted suicide in 1997. Assisted suicide allows for lethal amounts of drugs to be prescribed, versus euthanasia, which involves a medical professional injecting the lethal dose.
Schadenberg said concerns raised by reports from Belgium and the Netherlands, where euthanasia was legalized in 2002, that were ignored by the Supreme Court need to be taken into consideration.
“They say I’m just being alarmist. I don’t know how many deaths you have to have before alarmism is just being real,” said Schadenberg.
Facts presented at the Smithers meeting that got the audience’s attention included a high-profile case in Belgium of 45-year-old deaf twins who were going blind. Otherwise healthy, they opted for euthanasia. Belgium was also the first country to legalize euthanasia for children last February.
Schadenberg does not believe any legalized system should be allowed, and also advocates for better palliative care. He said he would like to see a Royal Commission to at least investigate the ramifications of legalization.
He believes there is no time to pass a law because of the looming federal election. That would lead to decriminalization and pass control to the provinces as a health regulation.
“I don’t think you can call it medical treatment; I don’t think that would be right.”