OTTAWA, Aug. 13, 2009 – The Catholic Civil Rights League has written to Prime Minister Harper, with copies to the leaders of the other major parties, to express our concerns about current pressures to liberalize our laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide. In our letter, reproduced below, we state that a greater priority on palliative care is the best way to allay concerns that Canadians have about end of life issues.

Dear Mr. Harper,

I am writing on behalf of our national membership to express our concerns about Private Members’ Bill C-384, which aims to liberalize our laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide, and about more general pressures in this regard throughout society.

While we all sympathize with patients and families who face difficult situations and decisions at the end of life, we believe a strong commitment to palliative care is the best way to allay their concerns. Canadians need to know that they will be provided with the best pain management available, and the best comfort care available. In our opinion, some of the pressure for a more liberal euthanasia law is fueled by concerns that this standard will not be met.

On the other hand, the experience in the few jurisdictions that have made euthanasia and assisted suicide legal suggests a number of things. Notably, that a very limited legalization will lead to a more widespread acceptance of the practice, significant difficulties in obtaining genuinely informed consent, and perhaps most problematic of all, problems in record keeping that make it very difficult to track abuses.   

We believe that the legalization of any “mercy killing” will lead to the devaluation of the lives of the seriously ill and disabled, and pressures on them and their families to hasten their demise. This is very much against our Canadian tradition of caring for the ill and the needy in a life-enhancing way.

Thank you for considering our concerns, and best wishes for the coming parliamentary session.
Yours truly,
Joanne McGarry, Executive Director.

Resources from Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada