Assisted suicide law would create chaos, bishops say

Bishop Douglas Crosby

Bishop Douglas Crosby

May 4, 2016

OTTAWA – Chaos will be the result of the federal government’s decision to leave protection for the conscience rights of medical professionals and health care institutions to the provinces, says the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).

Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton, Ont., said the government should clarify the rights of professionals and institutions who conscientiously object to participating in assisted suicide and not hand the issue off to provincial legislators or professional bodies.

In a May 3 presentation to House of Commons standing committee on justice and human rights, Crosby said, “the federal government should not allow lower jurisdictions to drive conscientious health care practitioners from their professions.

“Leaving such protections to provincial legislators or professional organizations . . . would result in a chaotic situation with conflicting rules between provinces and would effectively prompt the resignation or removal of many health care officials,” he said.

“It could also potentially force the closure of hospitals operated under religious auspices, most of which are Catholic.”

Crosby repeated Church teaching from earlier CCCB statements that the legislation is “intrinsically and gravely immoral.” The bill is contrary to “the profound natural inclination” of each person to live and preserve human life.

Suicide and euthanasia “contradict the fundamental responsibility that human beings have to protect one another and to enhance the quality of life and social care which every human being deserves, form conception to natural death,” he said.

“No amendments could legitimate the inherent evil in the premises behind the proposed legislation.”

However, Crosby cited the conscience issue and Bill C-14’s failure to define one of its criteria for assisted suicide – that a person’s “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable” – as aspects of the bill which make it “even more damaging and dangerous to Canadian society.”

That supposed safeguard of allowing assisted suicide only when natural death is “reasonably foreseeable” will protect no one, he said.

“Every person who has reflected on their own mortal existence knows that their own natural death is not only reasonably foreseeable, but indeed inevitable.”

Concluded Crosby: “The passage of Bill C-14, occasioned by the seriously flawed (Supreme Court) Carter decision, will have devastating effects on the social fabric of our country that cannot be predicted today.”