Bioethics institute targets assisted suicide

By 
  • June 19, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - The Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute has fired an opening volley in what it sees as a summer-long battle for palliative care and against physician-assisted suicide.

The CCBI has printed 1,600 postcards addressed to Parliament and distributed them to its friends and supporters. The postcards call for the defeat of Bill C-384, a private member’s bill that would remove physician-assisted suicide from the Criminal Code. The bill was introduced to Parliament May 13 by Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde. It’s expected to come up for second reading when Parliament resumes sitting in the fall.

“This is a social issue as well as a political issue,” said CCBI executive director Moira McQueen. “And it’s an ethical issue, and it’s above all just a human issue.”

A coalition of Catholic organizations has formed to lobby against the bill, including the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Catholic Organization for Life and Family, Catholic Civil Rights League and the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies.

McQueen wanted to get the postcard out as quickly as possible so people wouldn’t forget about the issue over the summer.

“It’s not at all partisan,” McQueen said. “It’s not recommending any political party. It’s very much a grassroots recognition that we really want palliative care — we really want good end- of-life care.”

The postcard, which can be addressed to any member of Parliament, argues that giving doctors a licence to kill undermines the doctor-patient relationship.

“The physician-patient relationship of trust is at the core of the medical profession and must not be weakened by asking physicians to help accelerate the death of their seriously ill, elderly, poor, depressed or vulnerable patients,” reads the postcard.

McQueen harbours no illusion that a mere 1,600 postcards are going to turn the tide.

“This is just the first salvo,” she said. “It’s not a good thing to be asleep at the wheel on this sort of thing. So it’s a little bit pro-active.”

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