A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘assisted suicide

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

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10*

Once I would have thought it went without saying that life is precious.

So why do I believe it bears repeating?

Lately I’ve been reading far too many news reports that show how easy some people find it to take a life (or lives), as well as articles suggesting society’s attitudes on issues such as euthanasia and abortion tend not to lean toward the pro-life side.

Dr. Donald Low, who was the microbiologist in chief at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and a University of Toronto professor, passed away in September. Before his death, Dr. Low called for the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide. Among the many news items in support of euthanasia in the days that followed, I spotted a letter to the editor in the Ottawa Citizen by Steve Passmore of Hamilton, Ontario. He described his physical health and went on to say this about euthanasia (the emphasis is mine):

Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide is an abandonment of me as a person, that society would rather help me die, than help me live….The answer is not legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide but rather improving social supports….Society needs to ensure life with dignity not death with dignity.

Much of the media coverage on euthanasia focusses on whether we have the right to a doctor’s assistance to “die with dignity.” And not enough attention is given to whether we are helping people live out their final days with dignity through palliative care, including hospice programs such as Hospice Care Ottawa.

Similarly, when the mainstream media reports on abortion, the focus tends to be on access to abortion services, with limited coverage of pro-life events. And the pro-life position is sometimes tarred with labels such as “anti-choice” and “anti-woman.” But I wasn’t sad to read in the October issue of Catholic Digest that, since 40 Days for Life began, 38 abortion clinics across the United States have closed, as Carolee McGrath reported in her article “Peaceful, Prayerful, Public Witness Pays Off.” Or to hear that campaigns such as Defund Abortion, Life Chain and 40 Days for Life continue, and that Priests for Life Canada offers a monthly Pro-Life Hour program on pro-life and pro-family issues.

Sometimes it seems people of faith swim against the tide when we take a pro-life stance, especially if we rely on the perspective of mainstream media. But I pray that we would find hope in reading articles from pro-life media such as Action Life’s blog and The Interim newspaper and in learning about and participating in pro-life events such as the ones I’ve mentioned.

Life is precious.

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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

Please enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Recent Posts


8 Kids And A Business

Balancing a large family with a small business, all by God's mercy, grace and providence

roses near running waters

Just a Catholic wife & mama living a life full of wonder

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.