Canada Officially Legalizes Assisted Suicide

News: Life and Family
by Rodney Pelletier  •  •  June 20, 2016   

Canadian lawmakers pass bill allowing terminally ill patients to kill themselves

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OTTAWA ( - Terminally ill Canadian citizens can now kill themselves if doctors or nurses sign off on it.

On Friday the Canadian government approved Bill C-14 by a measure of 44–28 allowing physician-assisted suicide if "natural death is reasonably foreseeable." Last year the Canadian Supreme Court overturned a constitutional ban on physician-assisted suicide and gave the government time to write it into law.

On Friday Senators passed an amendment to expand the law to apply to those who suffer from degenerative conditions but aren't necessarily close to death, but it was overturned before the Trudeau Liberal government signed it into law.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould argued it was an overreach, saying it could be applied to people with "any serious medical condition, whether it be a soldier with PTSD, a young person with a spinal cord injury, or a survivor whose memory is haunted with memories of sexual abuse."

As noted by Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, the law allows anybody to cause a person's death by as long as "natural death is reasonably foreseeable." It allows death by lethal injection as long as the opinion of the doctor or nurse practitioner meets legal criteria and they cannot be prosecuted if it is later discovered their opinion was incorrect.

The Catholic Conference of Canadian Bishops condemned the legislation, calling it "an affront to human dignity, an erosion of human solidarity and a danger to all vulnerable persons."

"Moreover," they add, "it is a violation of the sacrosanct duty of health care providers to heal and the responsibility of legislators and citizens to assure and provide protection for all, especially those persons most at risk."

In April, Cdl. Thomas Collins of Toronto decried Canada's impending euthanasia legislation. "The fundamental move towards implementing euthanasia or assisted suicide is itself troubling. ... Now, it's possible that giving a [lethal substance] is now going to be considered a form of healthcare. What have we come to?"

He criticized the expression "medical assistance in dying" as a description of the practice, remarking, "That's not called dying. The word for that is 'killing.' To not know the difference between dying and killing is astonishing."

The bishops of the province of Alberta released a joint statement condemning the participation of any Catholic in assisted suicide, calling it "morally wrong. ... [N]o Catholic may advocate for, or participate in any way, whether by act or omission, in the intentional killing of another human being either by assisted suicide or euthanasia."

Ottawa archbishop Terrence Prendergast told his priests they may deny the sacrament of extreme unction to people seeking to end their lives by assisted suicide. He maintains a person who chooses suicide doesn't have the proper disposition needed to receive the sacrament.

The Catholic Church decrees that a necessary part of the reception of the sacrament of Extreme Unction — which involves anointing with holy oil, confession and the reception of the Holy Eucharist — is true contrition for sins.

"Asking to be killed is gravely disordered and is a rejection of the hope that the rite calls for and tries to bring into the situation," Abp. Prendergast stated. "But we cannot be forgiven pre-emptively for something we are going to do — like ask for assisted suicide when suicide is a grave sin."

He is, however, allowing priests to be present when someone medically commits suicide in order to pray for the person and to encourage him to "turn away from it."


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