Cathy Majtenyi: Time to stand up for the gift of life

  • February 12, 2020

It’s an impossibly tight deadline that the Trudeau government has deliberately created, but one we must respond to with great urgency. 

By March 11, it’s highly likely that the “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” clause in Canada’s Criminal Code will be struck down.

If that happens, the proverbial Pandora’s Box will effectively unleash the widespread availability of medically assisted suicide, a practice Pope Francis calls “a sin against the Creator.”

Without the requirement of imminent death, how far could medically-assisted suicide go?

It all started in a very “compassionate,” “loving” way. For those who had weeks to live, living in terrible anguish and intolerable suffering, a sped-up death was seen as a “merciful” relief. Even within that limitation, the classifications, timeframes and boundaries of suffering became less and less defined.

With the March 11 amendments, anyone who is undergoing physical suffering can seek medically-assisted suicide. 

This summer, the government will be conducting a major review of euthanasia legislation. On the table are proposals to open up euthanasia to “mature minors” along with the mentally ill and people wishing to request euthanasia in advance.

The bar could eventually become so low that even “suffering” — however it may be defined — may not be a necessary requirement. 

The removal of the imminent death requirement has come at lightning speed. Cunningly, under the radar and without any public input, the Trudeau government last year decided to uphold a Quebec court ruling that it is unconstitutional to limit medically assisted suicide to people whose death is likely to be imminent. 

But we didn’t know this until Jan. 13 when the Department of Justice Canada announced that there would be a two-week “consultation” on the matter. This consisted of an online survey presuming that the expansion of assisted suicide beyond “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” is already a done deal. 

In fact, because of this “done deal” assumption, merely filling out the survey implies consent for the expansion of euthanasia.

A false assumption underpinning arguments in favour of medically-assisted suicide is that it’s an individual choice between a patient and a medical professional, justified by a belief that our bodies are our own and we have a right to do what we want with them. 

The problem is that these so-called individual decisions cumulatively lower the bar on society’s requirements of when death could be implemented to end suffering. 

In such an environment, the disabled, sick, elderly and other vulnerable people will be under increasing pressure to seek legalized suicide to terminate lives that society deems to be unliveable, unbearable or too expensive to maintain, not only for the vulnerable but for those around them.

Throughout all of this, the influence and moral standing of a key authority traditionally entrusted to save lives, through the observance of the original Hippocratic Oath, is disintegrating. 

Medically-assisted suicide has dramatically weakened doctors’ and other medical personnel’s focus on saving, preserving and respecting life. Instead of being sought out to save life, doctors are now being called upon to end life.

Yet one more line of defence for saving life has been destabilized, while, ironically, also cast into the role of playing God.

But there is only one God. 

As Christians, we know that our bodies belong to God, that He has a divine plan for our lives, and suffering has purpose and meaning for us and our loved ones, even if that’s not immediately apparent to us at the time. 

It’s imperative we contact our Members of Parliament during February and let them know we reject euthanasia in all its insidious forms and that we support the Culture of Life, not of death.

(Majtenyi is a public relations officer who specializes in research communications at an Ontario university.) 

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