OTTAWA, June 24, 2008 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today commented on the recent introduction of private member’s Bill C-562, introduced by Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde. The proposed bill, based on the euthanasia and assisted suicide proposal introduced by Ms. Lalonde in 2005, would amend the Criminal Code so that a medical practitioner killing a patient at his or her request, or providing the means for the patient to take his or her own life, would not be guilty of homicide or assisted suicide if certain conditions are met. Private members’ bills do not often become law.
The bill sets out several requirements that would have to be met, including that the person must be suffering from a terminal illness, or “severe physical or mental pain” without prospect of relief, and must request death in writing on at least two separate occasions, at least 10 days apart. It also stipulates that the person must be over 18.
The fact that proposals for legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide continue to be made shows that people fear uncontrolled pain and protracted suffering at the end of life. Much of this fear can and should be addressed through a stronger commitment to palliative care in our health care system, improved community care to support patients and their families in their homes, and better publicizing of the resources that do exist.
To instead promote euthanasia as the preferred option is plainly fraught with ethical problems – notably, the doubt inherent in obtaining genuine informed consent from someone who may well be of diminished capacity or depression due to the illness itself. More fundamentally, pro-euthanasia forces tend to speak to a disposable attitude to human life itself, or a quality of life mentality applied not only to ourselves, but our perceptions of the value of the lives of others, and the suffering of others.
This proposal, if enacted, could be a direct threat to the lives of the disabled or chronically ill, who could easily come to be seen as a burden. It’s unlikely that any safeguard could fully protect the vulnerable from subtle pressure to “choose” death, once euthanasia and assisted suicide are established as treatment options.
The right to life is only meaningful if it is extended to all persons, including the weak and the vulnerable. The League encourages its members to oppose C-562 and all similar proposals that would make the right to life a relative thing.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org