Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 25, 2007
Euthanasia won't stop with the dying
History of the abortion law shows restrictions will be cast aside
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
A recent Associated Press/Ipsos survey revealed that fewer than half of Americans favour physician-assisted suicide. A similar Ipsos Reid survey, conducted June 5-7 in Canada, revealed that 71 per cent of Canadians support physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill people.
Why the difference? I attribute it to the fact that Canada is further down the secularization trail than America.
This latest Canadian survey shows nothing new. Public opinion surveys consistently have shown that about 70 per cent of Canadians support physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, dating back to the early 1990s.
If physician-assisted suicide was adopted in Canada, we know from experience that it will not be reserved for only the terminally ill, regardless of safeguards that are put in place. Euthanasia and assisted suicide will extend from the terminally ill to the chronically ill, to the handicapped, then the disabled.
Advocates of euthanasia and assisted suicide will promise narrow, tight guidelines. You know - the usual rhetoric about six months to live, intractable and uncontrollable pain, consecutive requests by the patient to a panel of doctors or some similar regulative process.
Don't be duped. Guidelines failed with abortion. Remember that tight narrow guidelines surrounded abortion acceptance. In 1969, Canada's justice minister, John Turner, stood in the House of Commons and assured a reluctant Parliament that:
"The (abortion) bill has rejected the eugenic, sociological or criminal offence reasons. The bill limits the possibility of therapeutic abortion to these circumstances: It is to be performed by a medical practitioner who is supported by a therapeutic abortion committee of medical practitioners in a certified or approved hospital, and the abortion is to be performed only where the health or life of the mother is in danger."
Once the bill became law, it did not limit abortion to certain circumstances; it allowed abortions in any circumstance. Abortions became so widespread under Canada's abortion law that by 1982, abortions outnumbered live births in Toronto.
Either Toronto had the unhealthiest women on the planet or the law was being flouted. In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada overthrew the abortion law. Now there are no restrictions on abortion.
Why should we think it would be any different with euthanasia and assisted suicide? If history is any indicator, euthanasia and assisted suicide will not be confined to the terminally ill in the last few days of life.
As with abortion before it, euthanasia and assisted suicide will ride into public consciousness on the distorted and sterile idea of a freedom to choose death for ourselves or another.
But true freedom rests on the inviolability of every person as a child of God. All rights come from God. It is God - and not ourselves - who grants us freedom, dignity and all rights of personhood. If it were legislatures or courts that granted these freedoms, then legislatures and courts could easily take them away with the stroke of a pen or majority vote.
When legislators or judges try to remove inalienable human rights, like the right to life, then inevitably a higher law written on the hearts of people will rise up against it. No legitimate human law can contradict the divine commandment "Thou shalt not kill."
In 2000, then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien made the ridiculous claim that "We have had social peace on the question of abortion."
He was wrong. There has not been social peace on the matter of abortion since the 1969 bill passed. Abortion continues to tatter and rip at the social fabric of Canada. Euthanasia and assisted suicide will intensify the social conflict because the victims are clearly visible and they will haunt and taunt the conscience of the nation.
As Canadian Catholic Christians we are called to act as leaven in society; we are called to reflect the love of Christ to others and therefore draw them to his Sacred Heart of love. We are called to convey the message that without God words like "truth" and "freedom" have no ultimate meaning. Citizenship in the work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the surest way to responsible participation in the civil and social affairs of Canada.
As true patriots, we must call our fellow citizens to a renewed respect for the inviolable value of all human life and those institutions that foster the protection and care of all human life. The inviolability of human life reflects the inviolability of God. If man does not respect God, he will not respect humanity.
The greatest patriots pledge their first allegiance to the kingdom of God.
The preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms reminds us that Canada was "founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law." Our laws must reflect God's supremacy.
As Catholics and Canadians we must call our fellow citizens back to those founding principles.
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