Re: Globe editorial: Autonomy In Death, With Safeguards (Sept. 12). There is significant confusion about what is meant by euthanasia, and it could be influencing what people say in one poll or another. Euthanasia needs to be clearly understood as the taking of intentional steps with the primary motive of ending life. It is not the decision to discontinue active treatment that can be of no further benefit, or to increase the dosage of pain killer even though a secondary effect might to be shorten life.

Once the distinction is well understood, people often recognize that legalizing euthanasia would put severe emotional strain on the already stressed family members who would have to make the decision in many cases, and serious ethical dilemmas for medical practitioners. It would also create religious and conscientious freedom issues for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals who do not wish to participate. These are just some of the reasons why the law, as you say, needs to err on the side of life.

Joanne McGarry, executive director, Catholic Civil Rights League
Globe and Mail, Sept. 13, 2011