Canada’s Catholic Bishops Ask Parliament to Oppose Legalizing Assisted Suicide
by Steven Ertelt
September 24, 2009
Ottawa, Canada (LifeNews.com) — The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has written a letter to members of Parliament in Canada asking MPs to oppose a bill that would legalize assisted suicide. Bloc MP Francine Lalonde has introduced her third private member’s bill, C-384, to legalize the grisly practice.
Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg authored the letter, which says legalizing assisted suicide would put the disabled at risk.
"It is hard to see how any legislation legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide would protect the most vulnerable in our society. What confidence and trust could they possibly have that their lives would continue to be protected by health-care providers, family and friends, or society at large?" he asks.
"Euthanasia and assisted suicide, by their very nature, mean there is no longer a common duty for all to protect the lives of others," he writes.
"There is also the well-founded fear that euthanasia and assisted suicide can be imposed on individuals as a way to save costs and lessen demands on care-givers. Inevitably, the result would be a society even more fragmented, with its members living in greater isolation and anxiety," the Catholic leader continues.
The letter also discusses the morality behind drugs and helping dying patients.
It is legitimate to use medication and other means to alleviate suffering, even if a side effect can be the shortening of life expectancy," he writes.
It is also legitimate for someone to refuse medical procedures that are found to be especially burdensome. But what is never acceptable is the direct and intentional killing of the depressed, handicapped, sick, elderly or dying," Archbishop Weisgerber continues.
The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says those who favor assisted suicide are no doubt motivated by compassion and concern for patients.
But, he says the best compassion is to provide disabled and terminally ill patients with "proper care, effective pain control, and social, emotional and spiritual support until their natural death."
Opposition to the bill has increased in recent weeks as a brief endorsed by 100 doctors and submitted to Quebec’s College of Physicians urges fellow physicians to voice their disagreement with euthanasia.
The brief’s authors insist there are no special circumstances justifying euthanasia, given advances in pain management, geriatric and palliative care.
"There is a thought that people are being kept alive in an awful way against their will, and that there is a propensity of the medical profession to just keep on treatment that patients don’t want," said André Bourque, head of family medicine at the University of Montreal. "I think this is really untrue."
The bill will be before Parliament for second debate on Tuesday.
Priests for Life of Canada is calling on "all parishes across Canada involved in this effort to defeat this legislation."
Related web sites:
Archbishop Weisgerber’s letter –
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