Two outstanding presentations were made to the Joint Committee on Assisted Suicide.
Leading ethicist and director of McGill’s Centre for Medicine, Law and Ethics, Margaret Sommerville told the Federal Joint Committee that “…future generations will look back on the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as the most important social-ethical-legal values decision of the 21st century, and the decisions that Parliament will make about the legislation and regulations to govern those interventions are an integral part of that decision.”
According to this Ottawa Citizen article, she said the harms and risks can be limited if government adopts certain recommendations. These would be to avoid the future “normalization” of physician-assisted dying, by making it clear that it is an exception, should only be used as a last resort, and used rarely. “If Canada had the same percentage of total deaths of deaths by (physician-assisted dying) as the Netherlands and Belgium currently have (about 4 per cent and 4.6 per cent, respectively) we would have between 11,000 and 12,000 deaths each year.”
Also appearing before the Joint Committee, made up of 6 Senators and 11 Members of Parliament was Ottawa’s Cardinal Collins.
“The strong message from the Supreme Court is unmistakable: some lives are just not worth living. We passionately disagree,” said Collins, who presented on behalf of the Coalition for HealthCare and Conscience.
LifeSite News quoted that Cardinal as saying that
“The right to be put to death will, in practice, become in some cases the duty to be put to death, as subtle pressure is brought to bear on the vulnerable.”(…) “Often, a plea for suicide is a cry for help. Society should respond with care and compassionate support for these vulnerable people, not with death.” Collins emphasized that, “those called to the noble vocation of healing will instead be engaged in killing.” This will have a “grievous effect both on the integrity of a medical profession committed to do no harm, and upon the trust of patients from whom they seek healing.
Catholic hospitals, for example, are “not ‘things.’ They’re communities of people,” Collins said. “They have values and that’s why people come to them,” and they are “funded by the government because they do immense good work.” “If you undermine the institution for what it is, our society would be very, very much harmed,” he cautioned. “Our whole community would be a lot harsher, colder, crueler, without the witness given by community who are on the ground, on the street, day by day, caring for the most needy.”
LifeCanada presented a brief to two members of the Joint Committee at a special hearing in Langley, BC. The brief can be found here.
The Joint Committee is wrapping up it’s hearing February 4th. To learn more, you can go to the Joint Committee webpage here.