We are called to be with dying, not to kill them, COLF says

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  • October 23, 2009
{mosimage}OTTAWA - The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) has written a strongly worded letter to Parliamentarians and Senators opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“Keeping in mind that Canada has rejected the death penalty, it would be a contradiction and an injustice to consider allowing some people to directly and intentionally kill others, especially at a time when they are most vulnerable,” wrote COLF director Michele Boulva in an Oct. 15 open letter.

COLF also proposed three priorities if Canada is to remain a just and humane society:  more research and education on pain relief; funding for palliative care centres and quality end-of-life care; and fiscal measures to free caregivers to devote themselves to caring for sick or dying loved ones.

Boulva challenged the notion that those who have lost their autonomy, or are deteriorating mentally or physically, have “lost their dignity.”

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she said. “The dignity of each human person is not dependent on health or other external circumstances. Human dignity is founded on the inherent worth of each person, which can never be altered.”

The letter noted Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde’s private members’ Bill C-384 that would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. The bill will have its second hour of debate Nov. 16 and come up for a vote on second reading Nov. 18.

Boulva warned legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide leads to greater “permissiveness and tolerance.” She described legal safeguards in countries that have tried it as “illusory,” noting that according to a Dutch government report, 550 Dutch citizens were euthanized without their consent in 2005. Holland has also drifted into a form of euthanasia for eugenics purposes, she wrote, noting the Groningen Protocol that “authorizes euthanasia for severely disabled newborns.” Many Dutch seniors have migrated to neighbouring Germany, she said, because they “no longer trust their doctors and fear their loved ones will take advantage of their vulnerability to shorten their lives.”

Those with chronic or degenerative illnesses, severe disabilities, chronic depression, the elderly and the dying “present each of us with a responsibility and a calling,” she said.

“We are called to ‘be with’ and to ‘suffer with’ those who face some of the greatest challenges of human life,” she said. “To ‘suffer with’ — that is the true meaning of ‘compassion’ — as we provide proper care and effective pain control, along with social, emotional and spiritual support.”

Boulva said requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide often stem from “a profound fear” of pain and of “being alone in that suffering.”

The COLF letter was issued a day after the results of a survey of medical specialists in Quebec showed that 75 per cent of respondents were prepared to support euthanasia in some circumstances but not assisted suicide.

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