Judge’s ruling angers pro-life groups

  • April 3, 2024

Alberta’s pro-life community is denouncing a Calgary judge’s ruling to permit a 27-year-old woman with autism to receive euthanasia against the wishes of her father, who is opposing her in court.  

Justice Colin Feasby ruled in his 34-page decision issued on March 25 that the daughter’s “dignity and right to self-determination outweighs the important matters raised by (the father) and the harm that he will suffer in losing (his daughter).”

A publication ban is in place to protect the identities of the daughter, the father and the medical professionals involved in this case. According to Alberta guidelines, two doctors or nurse practitioners must approve medical assistance in dying (MAiD) procedures. In this case, a third doctor was required to break a 1-1 deadlock. The father opposed the third doctor because he deemed him “not independent and objective.”

Feasby did issue a 30-day stay on his ruling so the father could take the case to the Alberta Court of Appeal. According to Feasby’s summation, the father is arguing that his daughter — who reportedly lives with him – “is vulnerable and is not competent to make the decision to take her own life.” The justice added that the father said “that she is generally healthy and believes that her physical symptoms, to the extent that she has any, result from undiagnosed psychological conditions.”

Her only other diagnosis on record, aside from autism, is ADHD.

Richard Dur, the executive director of Prolife Alberta, expressed hope that the Alberta Court of Appeal will reverse Feasby’s decision so the “inherent value of life” will be affirmed.

“Life is sacred, and every life should be treated with equal value, dignity and respect,” he wrote in an email. “The notion that individuals can seek government assistance in ending their lives is troubling enough in and of itself. If suicide is purported to be the ‘choice’ of the ‘autonomous individual,’ why must it necessitate the approval and support of the State? 

“Allowing the government to assume the role of  ‘judge, jury, and executioner’ in the deliberate killing of a human person is tantamount to surrendering the worthiness of human life to governmental authority. Is it not complete madness that our government actively participates in the suicide of its citizens?”

Gabrielle Johnson, the executive director of the Alberta Life Issues Educational Society (ALIES), told The Catholic Register via email that “given the little information we have on the case, there’s not much we can say about the specifics of their situation. But we know that something has gone awry in our culture when someone’s ‘right to autonomy’ trumps our responsibility to offer suicide intervention, prevention and psychological support.” 

Amanda Achtman, a Calgary-based pro-life activist, said the ruling discriminates against individuals living with autism.

“If this young woman did not have autism, she would not be eligible for euthanasia in Canada,” Achtman said in an interview with OSV News. She added that Feasby’s ruling signals “to everyone with autism” that “in a moment of weakness, a person with autism who is struggling with suicidal ideation may be killed rather than helped. It is intrinsic to the eugenic mindset that ending someone’s life could be in their best interest. The father fighting for his daughter’s life loves her more than the judge ruling that she can be euthanized on the basis of having autism and ADHD.”

She alluded to Bill C-62 becoming law on Feb. 29, which delays MAiD for individuals solely living with a mental illness until 2027. The bill did not state if autism qualified as a sole condition.

Patrice Roussel of the Alberta March for Life Association, and a member of the Knights of Columbus for over 30 years, said that “as Catholics, we wish that people will have their life from natural birth until the natural end of their life and that we should love people and give them care as Christ did for us.”

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.