Quebec bishops issue warning about euthanasia

  • October 7, 2010
euthanasiaOttawa - Quebec’s Catholic bishops have cautioned members of the Quebec National Assembly to observe the law and to diligently prosecute cases involving euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In a brief to a commission holding public hearings on euthanasia and assisted suicide, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec (AECQ) reminded the Quebec National Assembly of its obligation to enforce the Criminal Code.

“If the law exists, it must be observed,” the bishops said, warning that deliberately ignoring the law undermines the credibility of legislators.

The bishops commented on a disturbing trend in Quebec courts in which some so-called “mercy-killing” cases have resulted in discharges with no penalty.

The AECQ argued there is no reason to change current laws prohibiting euthanasia.

The bishops also advised the commission not to let public policy be dictated by opinion polls, because even though polls could indicate support for euthanasia and assisted suicide one day they could support the death penalty the next.

The bishops also said elected officials have a responsibility to anticipate the full consequences of legislation and determine what kind of society they would bequeath to future generations. They warned that legalizing euthanasia could have a dire effect on people tempted by suicide though not at the end of their lives; it could destroy trust in the medical profession if doctors are allowed to kill patients; and it could create a future society where autonomy trumps solidarity.

The bishops told the commission that much has been done in the area of pain control, and with proper medical training and more research the fear of physical pain should cease to be a rationale for euthanasia.

Calling for improved palliative care, the bishops said that legalizing euthanasia would diminish the incentive for good palliative care treatment because caring for patients is costly.

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