TORONTO, ON February 25, 2016 – The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) strongly opposes the recommendations of the Report of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, titled “Medical Assistance in Dying: A Patient-Centred Approach.” The CCRL uses the more accurate terms “assisted suicide” and “euthanasia” since there is nothing medicinal whatsoever in the process of killing a patient or intervening so that a patient may commit suicide more easily.
The majority report is problematic as it brings Canada further along the path of unrestricted assisted suicide and euthanasia, a regime which began with the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Carter v. Canada and with it, the overturning of the prohibition against assisted suicide and euthanasia from the Criminal Code. In the twenty-two years since the 1993 Supreme Court of Canada decision in Rodriguez, Parliament not only continued to oppose assisted suicide and euthanasia in six separate votes, but rather passed near unanimous resolutions for a national anti-suicide prevention policy, and for a further national strategy to support increased palliative care throughout Canada.
The Joint Committee’s majority recommends the practically unfettered and immediate implementation of death on demand for Canadians. The CCRL made submissions to previous consultation panels on euthanasia in response to the decision in Carter, but the League was not prepared to collaborate in the legislative process of advocating for a liberal bill as now proposed. The CCRL remains of the view, based on the experience of other jurisdictions, that “safeguards”, even as minimally expressed by the Joint Committee, are illusory. The League fears for the elderly, the disabled, and the those with mental health afflictions, that they will be the subject of increased pressure to take their own lives, rather than gain access to treatment, or palliative care. In every other jurisdiction, the scope of assisted suicide and euthanasia widens, and instances of egregious circumstances of premature death prevail.
Of particular concern to the CCRL is recommendation #11:
That the Government of Canada work with the provinces and territories to ensure that all publicly funded health care institutions provide medical assistance in dying.
Catholic health institutions cannot and will not participate in the intrinsically evil act of assisted suicide/euthanasia. The Liberals, as professed guarantors of the Charter, cannot in good conscience merely deny the religious and conscientious rights of such institutions. Is the government’s enthusiasm for such a proposal intended to bring about the demise of the Catholic health system?
Recommendation #10 is wholly unacceptable:
That the Government of Canada work with the provinces and territories and their medical regulatory bodies to establish a process that respects a health care practitioner’s freedom of conscience while at the same time respecting the needs of a patient who seeks medical assistance in dying. At a minimum, the objecting practitioner must provide an effective referral for the patient.
As the CCRL has stated many times, the compulsion to make an “effective referral” is an infringement of the Charter right of freedom of conscience and religion. Compelling an objecting physician to provide an effective referral to another physician, health-care provider, or third party agency in order to carry out assisted death or euthanasia, involves that physician in the objectionable procedure. The Parliamentary Committee has ignored numerous presentations and submissions opposing any compulsion to force a physician to violate his or her own conscience by being a participant in the very act, the very procedure to which he or she objects in the first place.
We urge members of the media and others who care for the future of Canada to have reference to the dissenting report of four Conservative MPs who have taken issue with the majority recommendations of the Joint Committee.
Canada is entering fully into the culture of death.
The CCRL asks all of our supporters to join us in rejecting this report and we plead with all Canadians, and indeed all Catholics to wake up and join us in this fight, spiritually through prayer, and politically by using our collective voice. Let us announce that we will not accept this.
About the CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) (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. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information:
Christian Domenic Elia, PhD
CCRL Executive Director