Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
August 24, 2009
CCCB launches national campaign against proposed euthanasia law
Archbishop James Weisgerber
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Canada's bishops are urging Catholics to prepare for the upcoming battle against euthanasia and assisted-suicide.
They also suggest the faithful contact their MPs, who are in their ridings for the summer break.
"Euthanasia and assisted suicide are the antithesis to what should be at the heart of human civilization - trust, respect, concern and solidarity, based on reverence for all human life," Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg wrote in a July 17 letter to fellow bishops across Canada.
Weisgerber, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged that they invite Catholics to become informed about euthanasia; to speak to their political representatives; and to join with other faith groups and organizations in fighting against efforts to change the law.
Weisgerber described the matter as "urgent," in light of Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde's Bill C-384, a private member's bill that would amend the Criminal Code to make assisted suicide and euthanasia legal in Canada.
"This debate must be taken seriously," the archbishop said, noting what appears to be a growing tolerance in the news media towards euthanasia and assisted suicide in some cases. He noted this is the third time Lalonde has tried to get such a bill passed.
The CCCB also provided dioceses with information developed by the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF).
"We need to clarify what euthanasia is and what euthanasia is not," said COLF director Michele Boulva in an interview.
"The legalization of euthanasia and/or assisted suicide is not about autonomy, dignity and choice," she said. "It is about giving some of us the right to kill others."
Adding fuel to the debate, the Quebec College of Physicians has an ethics task force investigating whether euthanasia might be appropriate in some circumstances.
News stories on the issue blurred the distinction between intentional killing and the unintentional shortening of a patient's life through increasing doses of pain medication.
Boulva said a national conversation is needed to combat the confusion. "Euthanasia can never be considered as care," she said. "It is killing."
She noted there is a big difference from someone's life being shortened as a side effect of slowly increased pain medication and deliberately giving someone a lethal drug dose.
"Euthanasia would be giving the patient a lethal dose of morphine, for example, with the intention of causing his or her death," she said.
Promoters of euthanasia and assisted suicide use "verbal engineering" through words like "dying with dignity" but they mean deliberate killing, Boulva said.
In countries and American states that have legalized forms of euthanasia promised safeguards have been eroded.
"The so-called right to choose death when you want it becomes the right of other people to choose for you when you are unable," she said. "The so-called 'right to die' often because a 'duty to die.'"