The Supreme Court of Canada decision in “Carter” which was handed down in 2015 held to be invalid certain provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada that prohibited assistance in taking one’s own life where the assistance was rendered by a physician and where:
- The person seeking assistance is a competent adult who clearly consents to the taking of his or her life, and
- Has a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.
The declaration of invalidity was suspended for 12 months to allow the requisite statutory amendments to the Criminal Code to be enacted.
The Federal Government established a committee to make recommendations on amendments to the code and those recommendations have now been tabled and are under consideration by those charged with the task of drafting the amending legislation.
The recommendations set out in the Report go much further than the Supreme Court of Canada decision. If these recommendations are accepted they will provide among other things for the following:
- That physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and pharmacists [under special circumstances] would be authorized to kill people;
- The “grievous and irremediable medical condition” that caused “enduring and intolerable pain” could be physical or mental. It need not be terminal.
- For now, voluntary euthanasia would be limited to those 18 years of age and over but in 3 years it recommends that “competent mature minors” of any age should be permitted to apply.
- Those who are diagnosed with ultimately crippling diseases such as dementia would be allowed to make advance applications for their deaths presumably under Health Care Representation Agreements in B.C. and similar authority documents in other provinces[The potential heirs of an estate will certainly like that one].
- All publicly funded hospitals will be required by law to offer euthanasia services. This leaves our Catholic [Christian] health care providers and institutions open to enforcement action where they or it refuse to comply because of conscience and policy considerations.
Toronto Star columnist, Thomas Walkom, commented in a recent article that if these recommendations are all accepted, “Canada will boast one of the most wide open voluntary euthanasia regimes in the world, on a par with those of Belgium and the Netherlands”. He went on to observe that “ all of this might make sense in a world where everyone [including every teenager] was rational, where physicians were all-seeing, where family members always had one another’s interests at heart and the old, the sick and the disabled were not viewed as social burdens”
As Christians, of course, [and certainly as Catholic Christians] we have objections to euthanasia that secularists may not have. We accept the principal of the “sanctity of life” and for that reason we leave the issue of death, for the most part, to God. We are opposed to human intervention whether the form of that intervention is abortion, capital punishment or euthanasia allowing of course for death caused by human agency where the intention is to preserve one’s own life and the death of another is an unfortunate result of that intention.
As Christians, we have to accept that the Carter decision sets out the law of the land with respect to physician assisted suicide and as much as we don’t like it, short of changing the Constitution or encouraging the Federal Government to invoke the “Notwithstanding Clause”, we are stuck with it. What the parliamentary committee is suggesting however goes way beyond the limited application of “Carter” and we need to mobilize now to see that those recommendations do not see the light of day. Time is of the essence as the legislation is being drafted as I write this blog. There are numerous groups who have already entered the fight. If you go on line you can identify which one serves your purpose and can get involved.
May God protect us from this insidious evil process that will impact many negatively going forward if the recommendations of the Committee are accepted. This is truly a slippery slope.