Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
August 24, 2009
Euthanasia threatens Canadian society
Parliament faces fall debut about private member's bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
The euthanasia/assisted suicide debate is heating up again in anticipation of the autumn session of Canada's Parliament. Quebec MP Francine Lalonde's latest private member's Bill (C-384) to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide awaits debate.
The executive director of Canada's Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Alex Schadenberg, has analyzed this dangerous bill. C-384 does not limit assisted suicide to the terminally ill.
Sick individuals can refuse appropriate treatments and still have an assisted suicide. The bill requires a medical practitioner to inform the person of all alternatives to euthanasia/assisted suicide but no requirement to try effective treatments.
Bill C-384 would allow the killing of people suffering from depression or other mental conditions.
People receiving an assisted suicide only need to appear lucid, not actually be lucid.
This is not the first time a euthanasia/assisted suicide bill has been presented to Parliament. All the previous bills have been unsuccessful.
But things seem different now; the public seems more open to euthanasia. National Post newspaper columnist Barbara Kay recently wrote: "Have you noticed that the subject of euthanasia/assisted suicide is picking up momentum - that it is, so to speak, taking on a life of its own?"
SOCIETY'S 'BURDEN'She went on to suggest that legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide can easily create an environment hostile to incurably ill people who choose to live. In a society that offers a cheap and easy solution to suffering, people who choose to live rather than be euthanized may become relegated to the sidelines. They would be viewed as causing unnecessary burdens on the state or caregivers.
Kay has a good point. If a family chooses to seek life with dignity for an incurably ill loved one instead of death with dignity, well, that's their choice. Why should the state pay for it?
Such callousness is not so far-fetched. People have actually asked my wife why she would choose to stay with a man who has an incurable, degenerative disease and is unable to work.
"Leave him," they advised. "You can find someone else."
When my wife talked about old fashioned, illogical and sentimental ideas like marital love and commitment to solemn vows, the baffled questioners turned cold as though to say, "You're crazy!"
The right to assisted suicide implies a right to be alienated from life. The person seeking assisted suicide asks for help from the society from which he wishes to be alienated.
His personal autonomy trumps the greater interests of the community. His final action coarsens and hardens others.
There will always be suicidal people, but a civilized society does not acquiesce to the darkness of the abyss by participating in anyone's suicide. By definition civilized people have rejected barbarism of killing their weak and sick. They alleviate suffering rather than eliminate the sufferer.
The word compassion has its origin in the Latin word 'compati' meaning to "suffer with." That is what compassionate people do. They come along-side those who are suffering or dying and journey with them. True compassion requires us to invest ourselves in suffering people.
As Christians, we must be willing to enter their world and suffer with them, just like Jesus would do. Christ is our example. We are called to show Christ-like love to those who are in pain; and they will learn that we refuse to abandon them even if they abandon themselves. We willingly identify with their pain and offer to cover them with a blanket of love - even if the sufferer rejects it.
Euthanasia is cheap compassion. It requires so little of us. Euthanasia is a form of murder masquerading as mercy. It reduces people to their lowest and basest natures. Euthanasia is a grave crime against proper morality, against our collective humanity, and is contrary to natural law that has existed from the beginning.
Catholic teaching is unequivocal in its condemnation of euthanasia. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2276-79) says euthanasia is "morally unacceptable"; it constitutes a murder that is "gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due the living God."
Knowing when to discontinue medical procedure that is burdensome to a dying patient and disproportionate to the expected outcome can be acceptable, as long as one is not trying to cause death. When death is thought to be imminent, ordinary care must not be stopped or interrupted.
The Catechism says, "The use of painkillers to alleviate suffering of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable" (my emphasis).
It's a matter of motive and intent.
Euthanasia is not a legitimate part of palliative care. It has no place in a civilized society.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.