Euthanasia Prevention Coalition spokesperson urges persistent, clear opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide
June 18, 2012 -
In the debate about legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide, opponents must be persistent in their opposition and clear in their messaging, the director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition said recently in Saskatoon.
Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition was one of the speakers at a Campaign Life Coalition provincial conference May 5 in Saskatoon. He also participated in a public debate about assisted suicide at the public library May 3.
Those opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide must continue to speak out, Schadenberg stressed. There are continually new challenges in the courts, as well as ongoing efforts by euthanasia advocates to introduce new legislation, he said.
“They are not stopping, and we cannot stop either,” he said, urging those concerned to clearly communicate opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide.
It is important to be clear about definitions, as distinctions become blurred and emotional language is introduced into the debate, he said. He pointed to a range of medical ethics issues surrounding death and dying, the withdrawal of medical treatment, the use of sedation and pain medication, and the provision of basic care.
Euthanasia is an action or an omission of medical treatment that directly and intentionally causes the death of another person with the intention of relieving suffering, he said. It is a form of homicide.
The withdrawal of treatment to permit someone to die naturally is not euthanasia, he noted. “There is nothing wrong with accepting the limits of life.”
He challenged and disputed the suggestion that there is no difference between killing someone and allowing a person to die.
The key consideration is the intention to cause death, he said. Consent or motive - even one of compassion - does not change the reality of killing a human being.
As for assisted suicide, and the push to make this an accepted form of medical treatment, Schadenberg stressed the law criminalizing the aiding or abetting suicide is designed to protect all of us, including the most vulnerable.
Human beings are capable of taking advantage of others, and are known to hurt, abuse and kill others for their own purposes. If the law permits aiding and abetting suicide, or active euthanasia, the potential for abuse is significant, he maintained. “Can you trust every doctor?” he queried.
He pointed to serious concerns about euthanasia and assisted suicide becoming part of an escalation of elder abuse, and raised the question about the vulnerability of those who are depressed.
One study about depression and euthanasia that set out to show the two are not connected, instead discovered that a depressed individual is four times more likely to request euthanasia, and that depression is a primary risk factor in requests for euthanasia and assisted suicide, Schadenberg reported.
He also presented examples of inadequate safeguards, poor monitoring and questionable reporting in countries that have legalized euthanasia and/or assisted suicide.
Another serious concern is the often mistaken perception that those who are ill or disabled are suffering, when in fact they are not “suffering from” but “living with” their condition, Schadenberg said.
“People with disabilities are threatened by this,” he said.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition strives to “prepare a well-informed, broadly based network of organizations and individuals supporting measures that will create an effective social barrier to euthanasia and assisted suicide.”
Increasing understanding and respect for the dignity of human life, enhancing government support for hospice/palliative care systems and services, and maintaining and enforcing existing laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide are among the organization’s objectives.
For more information about the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition see: www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca
Other Campaign Life Coalition speakers at the May conference in Saskatoon were Rev. Geoffrey Young of Holy Spirit parish and Alana Gomez of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.
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CANADIAN CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS (CCCB)
Archbishop Smith - Comment on the BC Supreme Court decision regarding assisted suicide
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has learned with dismay of a ruling on assisted suicide by a judge of the British Columbia Supreme Court. The Catholic position on this question is clear. Human life is a gift from God. Therefore, as taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2280, "We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of."
Being stewards of life also requires each of us and all society to respond to the physical, emotional and moral sufferings of people of all ages, particularly those seriously ill or handicapped. In this regard, as the Bishops of Canada stated in 2005, we stand before a fundamental option, the response to which reveals the true nature of our society's heart. Do we show concern for the sick, the elderly, the handicapped and vulnerable by encouraging them to commit suicide or through deliberating killing them by euthanasia? Or, instead, do we fashion a culture of life and love in which each person, at every moment and in all circumstances of their natural lifespan, is treasured as a gift?
The CCCB will issue a more detailed reflection at a later date, once there has been opportunity to review the lengthy 395-page ruling. The ruling by the BC Supreme Court gives Parliament a year in which to consider the question. This will also give the CCCB opportunity to make submissions in due course.
+Richard W. Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton