A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

A Slippery Slope

Posted on: February 9, 2015

Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a unanimous ruling in the Carter v. Canada (Attorney General) case. The Court struck down Canada’s ban on assisted suicide as unconstitutional, as it deemed the law unreasonably restricted the right to life, liberty and security of the person protected by s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

On reading the news, my emotions ran the gamut from shock and outrage to sadness and worry.

My concern? That this ruling finds us at the top of a slippery slope leading to the euthanasia of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, people with chronic but not terminal illnesses, people of all ages with disabilities, elderly people with various health issues, and those deemed not competent to manage their own health care.

I also found myself confused. On one hand, we have organizations such as Do It for Daron, health centres such as The Royal, and countless individuals striving to prevent suicides and to teach us to recognize the warning signs so we can encourage others to seek help. We hear about the need for a national suicide prevention strategy. And on the other hand, the Supreme Court has ruled the federal government has one year to enact a new law that doesn’t unfairly restrict access to doctor-assisted death.

Andrew Coyne summed it up in “Court crosses Rubicon on right-to-die decision,” his opinion piece in Saturday’s Ottawa Citizen:

Once we have embraced the idea of suicide, not as a tragedy we should seek to prevent, but a right we are obliged to uphold; once the taking of life has been converted from a crime into a service—“physician-assisted death”—to be performed at public expense. . .how is it to be imagined that we could stop there?

Some readers may think I’m borrowing trouble, but a look at past posts on Action Life’s blog or LifeSiteNews gives us a frightening glimpse of just how the legalization of assisted suicide has played out in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Often we talk about groups in armed conflicts having little value for life, but in a country where “abortion rights” and “death with dignity” aren’t uncommon phrases and where the highest court in the land has struck down the laws on abortion and assisted suicide, I can only wonder whether others would view our country as one that values life or holds it cheaply.

May we continue to pray and work for the recognition of the right to life—and for the recognition that “assisted suicide” and “death with dignity” aren’t synonymous.

Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God.

~ s. 2319, Catechism of the Catholic Church: Popular and Definitive Edition

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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