OTTAWA, May 14, 2009 – As thousands of Canadians march on Parliament Hill today to give witness to respect for life, the Catholic Civil Rights League noted that the road that led to complete legalization of abortion now threatens to extend to care at the end of life.
“We find it particularly ironic that Francine Lalonde’s (BQ-La-Pointe-de-L’Ile) Private Members’ Bill to permit assisted suicide had its first reading during Respect for Life week,” said League Executive Director Joanne McGarry. “While the issues of abortion and end-of-life care are by no means identical, there are many parallels between how the “right-to-die” lobby is making its case now, and how abortion was promoted prior to its liberalization in 1969, notably in the appeals to compassion and the suggestion that it would decriminalize something that goes on a lot already.”
Ms. Lalonde has introduced a private members’ motion on this subject several times in the past, and had indicated her intention to do so again in this Parliament. In her introduction this week, she said “the time has come for this Parliament to find a way to decriminalize medical assistance in dying, which is of such vital importance to those whose suffering can no longer be relieved except by this ultimate compassion.” She also said that “serious research” has found no evidence of abuse of similar laws in the few jurisdictions in the U.S. and Europe where they have been passed.
In fact, some researchers have found suggestions that there is abuse, including deaths that do not follow the request process that such laws usually require, and also some significant problems in compiling meaningful data. (See Euthanasia Prevention Coalition website.)
However, as the League has noted in the past, the problem with euthanasia and assisted suicide proposals is not in how or whether they can be implemented as intended. More fundamentally, such proposals tell us that sanctity of life has become, at best, a relative value for some people, and also that we are failing to provide appropriate palliative care and other support to patients and their families. The interest in some legalization of euthanasia is motivated in large measure by the fear of unrelieved pain and of being a burden to families.
The League calls on legislators to reject proposals for euthanasia and assisted suicide, and focus instead on improvements in health care that will support a full range of care for those facing terminal illness, including improvements in home-based care and family support.
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