The ‘Right to Die with Dignity’ issue regarding euthanasia and assisted suicide has created much debate and division in Canada. The province of Quebec began its public hearings earlier in September.
The Bishops of Quebec presented their opinions today to the Special Commission on the issue of dying with dignity. They submitted a ten page document arguing their reasons against legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Here is an unofficial English translation of excerpts of the Bishops’ Press Release:
Our society does not benefit from changing the Canadian law that prohibits euthanasia and assisted suicide. We have even less reason than ever before to consider it. This is the point of view that the Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops supports in the document that we presented today before the Special Commission in Quebec on the issue of dying with dignity.
The bishops hope that “the Commission offers recommendations that will make the end of life as humanizing as possible,” that death occurs at its natural time, not before that time with the practice of euthanasia or assistance by suicide.
In the Bishops document, they address the main arguments that are usually put forward one by one. The arguments in favour of euthanasia are: the unbearable physical pain; aggressive therapy, psychological and moral suffering in a situation of late life, intolerable illness and the affirmation of the autonomy of the person who wants to decide their time of death for themselves. The Bishops argue that the means currently available which are analgesic medicine and the employment of medical professionals entrusted with assisting patients; are the true paths of compassion and dignity.
“The practice of palliative care,” write the bishops, “is actually a place where nursing staff and many volunteers offer a personalized environment (…), and coaching support that will help the sick, giving them the motivation to acknowledge that they continue to on without having a loss to their dignity. (…)
The bishops urged the Commission to fully measure the consequences of an eventual acceptance of euthanasia or assisted suicide. Accepting these measures would have a serious impact on the medical profession, the sick, disabled and their families. Recently, countries like France and Britain have conducted a thorough democratic debate on the issue and decided against allowing it by foreseeing the consequences of such acceptance.
The full text by the Bishops is available on the website for the Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops.