A monstrous notion has
become law. Assisting in the suicides of sick and disabled Canadians is legally
permitted. It is now a new right … the right to death. The pied pipers of this
new right use misleading euphemisms such as medical
assistance in dying (MAID). A more accurate, precise and honest description
of this new reality is medical killing.
The new law does is not limited to hastening
the deaths of the terminally ill. No, it
even sanctions killing people who are not dying. Medical aid in dying is called
palliative care―helping dying people to die comfortably. There are a vast array
of modern pain control medications and techniques to eliminate suffering
without hastening death. That is not the intent of the new law. In fact, I
assert the new law for assisted suicide will ultimately discourage advances in
This is what happened in
the Netherlands where assisted suicide has been practiced for decades. In their
2015 book It’s not That Simple:
Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Today, palliative care nurse Jean Echlin
and Ian Gentles write about Holland’s virtual abandonment of palliative
care: “That country [Holland] has now a total of only 70 palliative-care beds,
in contrast to the many thousands of such beds in Britain, which has not
legalized euthanasia.” It stands to reason that assisted suicide and euthanasia
discourage proper end of life care.
Euthanasia is so much
tidier than palliative care and so much less expensive. A lethal injection
eliminates the messy process of a drawn out death and frees up much needed beds
in hospitals and nursing homes. From an economic point of view euthanasia and
assisted suicide makes sense; from a moral perspective it is abandonment from
what is right in favour of what is expedient. Do not discount the gravity of
what has happened: Canada crossed a centuries old taboo of medical killing of
the most vulnerable in society.
What are faithful
Christians to do? Christian doctors and health care institutions must not comply
with the new regime for medical murder, even at the risk of legal, professional or financial punishment.
We must not underestimate the risk of this.
The Catholic nursing home, Huize
Sint-Augustinus, in Diest, Belgium, was fined €6,000
(approx $6,600) for
not allowing an elderly resident’s doctor to give her a lethal injection. Closer to home, a Global News story on June 29th
reported that Quebec’s health minister, Gaétan Barrette, has chastised the McGill
University Health Center palliative care unit for not euthanizing
Freedom of conscience
and religious expression is under direct attack abroad and at home. As I have stated before, Catholic hospitals
and medical professionals have no choice but non-compliance with any aspect of
medical killing. Our faith unequivocally prohibits it. There are dark days
ahead but we must stand firm against this utterly corrupt law. Instead we must
offer life-affirming alternatives to euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Christian social service
agencies must give new priority to suicide prevention counselling and outreach
to the disabled and incurably ill. Individual Christians must commit themselves
at local church levels to help reduce requests for physician assisted suicide by
creating inclusive local Christian communities to address and heal the
loneliness of the human condition. It is
not easy but it is necessary if the fundamental belief in the sanctity
of human life is to be an integral part of our Christian pilgrimage. After all, our Lord told us we are to love our
neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22.39 & Mark 12.31)
This may involve making
friends with the friendless or those racked by fear or defeat because of
acquired disabilities or incurable illnesses. I am aware this may take some people outside
their comfort zone – particularly if they have had little exposure to people
with disabilities. It’s a new and foreign
experience and it may make them afraid.
What if they get sucked into a vortex of neediness and loneliness? Then there is a worse fear almost to
frightening to contemplate because it has been suppressed since early
childhood. What if the disabled person’s anguish awakens their own anguish!
It is, perhaps, what
lies at the primordial root of state sanctioned medical killing ― a deep internal fear of a wayward humanity that has driven them to kill the anguished to stop
anguish in them and us too.
And yet it is this fear of anguish and death that Christians
are called to overcome with Christ’s help. We are called to
something higher. God’s love drives out fear in the human heart. Reach out to
those gripped with fear and despair and have forgotten the warm magic of a
hello and friendship.
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