Online ‘Disability Filibuster’ aims to compel MPs to rethink assisted dying bill

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Opposition is ramping up to the revamped version of Canada’s medical assistance in dying law, with disabled people from every corner of the country invited to take part in an online effort aimed at stopping Bill C-7.

Quin Lawrence is one of the organizers of the “Disability Filibuster,” which is now underway to compel Members of Parliament to rethink the federal legislation.

“We’re broadcasting for as long as possible. We’re starting with 24 hours and going to try and go until midnight on Friday to try and get the attention of parliament members and really say that disabled people across the country and around the world do not agree with the bill being voted on,” they tell NEWS 1130.

“Because it puts our lives in so much danger and puts at risk of things like medical coercion, and is essentially eugenics even if people don’t want to say it is modern eugenics,” they add.

Lawrence says the protest came together as a “last-ditch effort” to stop the bill, and it will be an ongoing live-stream on Zoom and feature disabled people and allies broadcasting from around the world.

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The bill seeks to amend the law to comply with a Quebec court ruling last fall, which found it was unconstitutional to allow only those whose natural death is “reasonably foreseeable” to be able to get medical help to end their suffering. The federal government has introduced Bill C-7 to bring the law into compliance with that ruling. It would expand access to intolerably suffering people who are not nearing the natural end of their lives.

Lawrence worries if the bill goes through, medical assistance in dying would be available to those whose sole qualifying criteria is having a mental health related disability.

“What we’re asking is simply for them to wait even. Not to even throw out the whole bill but to wait and continue looking into what disabled people are saying and asking for from them elsewhere,” Lawrence says.

“In disabled people’s view, the government is funding our rights to die before they’ve given us any kind of equality in life.”

The Disability Filibuster started Monday with an International Women’s Day event and conversation.

-with files from Renee Bernard, Lisa Steacy, and the Canadian Press

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