Canadians will regret legal assisted suicide, Cardinal Collins predicts [CNA]


#1

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/images/size340/Medication_Credit_ashley_rose_via_Flickr_CC_BY_NC_ND_20_CNA_2_2_15_pills.jpgToronto, Canada, Apr 17, 2016 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The coming legalization of assisted suicide in Canada will threaten the vulnerable, hide killing with euphemisms, and threaten the consciences of those who oppose it, Cardinal Timothy Collins of Toronto has said.

On Thursday the Canadian government introduced legislation to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia under the federal criminal code.

“We’re all deeply concerned that this is a sad day for Canada,” the cardinal told CNA April 14.

While people see assisted suicide as a “simple solution,” he said, once people begin to consider what the practices really means to society, and its threats to the vulnerable, “they begin to realize that this is not the way to go.”

Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Jews, Muslims and the Salvation Army, all opponents of legalization, will hold an April 19 press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the Canadian capital.

“The very people who are most involved in helping people by the bedside while they are dying or while they are suffering are the ones most opposed to killing those entrusted in their care,” Cardinal Collins said.

The gathering would say to Parliament: “thus far and no further. This is just not right. It’s not right.” He characterized the effort as “the ecumenism of practical love.”

The new legislation was required by a February 2015 Canadian Supreme Court decision. The ruling said that doctors may help patients who have severe and incurable suffering to kill themselves, and ordered Parliament to create a legislative response.

“That is the root of the problem,” Cardinal Collins said. He described that court decision as “sadly unanimous.”

“The fundamental move towards implementing euthanasia or assisted suicide is itself troubling,” he added.

Previously, under Canadian law those who counseled, aided, or abetted a suicide faced up to 14 years in prison.

The cardinal said the law previously barred the provision of “noxious substances” to people.

“Now, it’s possible that giving a substance like that is now going to be considered a form of health care. What have we come to?”

He criticized using the phrase “medical assistance in dying” to describe “taking a substance and injecting it into a person, and that makes them die.”

“That’s not called dying. The word for that is ‘killing’. To not know the difference between dying and killing is astonishing.”

He warned against euphemisms that are “comfortable and pleasant and sweet, but which do not describe what is happening.”

“When we are ashamed, troubled, by what we are doing, I think we always leave the light of clear language. We don’t want the light to shine upon what we are doing.”

The cardinal said Catholics should strongly encourage palliative care for those in severe pain and for the terminally ill. This, not suicide, is true medical assistance, he maintained.

He said the government also has an obligation to support palliative care if it is going to set up a legal euthanasia regime.

“That’s the positive way to deal with this very real issue,” he said.

He also stressed the need for conscience safeguards to protect individuals who are “committed to healing, and not to killing.”

“They say that there’s nothing in the law that somebody must do this. Well, there’s nothing in the law. Yet. But this has to be taken care of.”

He said individuals and institutions will certainly face pressure to take part in assisted suicide or euthanasia.

“What protections are being offered? There are no protections offered in this bill at all,” he said.

Backers of the bill say that Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories will provide these protections.

The cardinal questioned this.

“For all of Canada, they’re making it acceptable to provide a noxious substance to somebody. But they’re not providing the same nationwide protections for people’s consciences and for ‘havens of refuge’.”

He said that in this “cold world of euthanasia,” there must be “places where you know where you will be safe.”

He worried of the pressures on the elderly to “hurry up” and die.

“At a time when our priority should be fostering a culture of love, and enhancing resources for those suffering and facing death, assisted suicide leads us down a dark path,” he said in an April 14 statement.

He noted that the Hail Mary prayer focuses on “now, and at the hour of our death.”

“In these days ahead, may that reflection guide us as in a spirit of love, mercy and compassion, we journey with all those who are suffering.”

Full article…


#2

Started with abortion. Interesting that abortion became legal about 45 years ago and now those who supported it could easily become victims of assisted suicide. :eek:


#3

I’m a millennial. I can’t help but wonder if my husband and I will be victims of “forced” suicide. I have a hard time seeing it now, but it isn’t so preposterous given current trajectory.


#4

Wonder too.:bigyikes: China with its one baby law has killed off the girls leaving young men without a mate. It was China’s custom before communism to have large families so the kids could look after mom and dad. Honorable thing to do.:thumbsup: Well now they’ve killed off the kids and the one child :mad: is not taking care of mom and dad or mom and dad don’t have kids.

So there they are senile or ill a drain on the state. What to do, what to do?:confused: No problem. No kids around to protest so pretty easy to give them a shot in the arm or head and dispense with this drain on the state. :stretcher:


#5

I remember back in the 70s? the governor of Colorado, whose name I can’t recall, said that old people had the obligation to die and he was in favor of assisted suicide. What is our country coming to?


#6

What’s fascinating is that all of the media coverage that I’ve seen has been lamenting how the law doesn’t go far enough. The government media (CBC) has completely ignored coverage of dissenting opinions. The only point of view that I’ve heard was from so-called “Dying with Dignity”. Also fascinating is that the CBC doesn’t call it assisted suicide but rather “assisted dying”. Clearly, the minds behind the CBC really want the law, in their words, to continue to evolve.


#7

I wonder, is there any part of my life that you and the fine Cardinal don’t want to dictate to me? I fail to see how having a system in place where, if I’m suffering some degenerative or terminal illness that I can exert my personal autonomy, even where I may not physically be able to fulfill the act, and commit suicide? If God, if he exists, doesn’t like that, then that’s between me and Him, or by extension, between the doctor involved and Him.

The origin of this is the notion of equality before the law. Someone who is still physically capable of committing suicide has no legal barrier, and yet someone who no longer can act is forced to live even when they don’t want to. Why? Because some theological position says suicide is bad? Because somehow, someway someone will find a way to off a rich relative?

Have any of you actually read the proposed law? Do any of you know the background as to how this got to the Canadian Supreme Court? And ultimately, if you’re a Canadian citizen and you don’t believe in suicide, assisted or otherwise, how exactly does this law affect you, considering the controls put in place (that you would know about it if you had read the law).

As to “not going far enough”, well that’s right, because there are some illnesses, like Alzheimers, where one may end up in a condition where they can no longer make that determination, and yet there’s no way for them to pre-authorize assisted suicide. I want to be able to authorized suicide if I suffer from an incurable cognitive condition, much as I can already sign a DNR.

And really, how is it any business of yours? I don’t recognize the government’s authority to dictate my end of life decisions to me. I don’t recognize the Queen’s, I certainly don’t recognize a deity who I don’t accept the existence of, and I do not recognize any church or religious leader’s authority in this most personal of matters. The only people I have to consider are my family, and having seen the final stages of Alzheimers up close and personal, and the costs (not just financial) to the family, I will not subject mine to that out of some notion that maybe God will get really angry because I shortened a hopeless situation by a few years.


#8

I strongly suspect I will go the Alzheimer’s route. Runs in the family. My main anecdote about that is when my grand-father was dying, his mind was very far-gone. My Mom was praying the rosary, and the litany of saints with him. He was unresponsive. But when she got to my patron saint, Teresa, his face registered recognition and he squeezed her hand. I didn’t know this at the time, but he was the youngest of twelve living, and had a younger sister who died. We share the same name.

There is always hope. What a beautiful occasion for my Mom, and myself. I’ve named my son after my grand-father.


#9

The right to die is a basic human right thing.


#10

Sadly it seems to be more and more of a possibility. I know several people with disabilities who are now scared for their lives.


#11

When does the right to die become a duty to die?

For those who say it will not happen, well dream on. It already is happening.


#12

Ya know, it seems like Canada is such a large, beautiful, quiet land of peace with nature abounding. It is right? What the heck is happening to the people - is it the same thing that got hold of the USA? Canadians always had a little bragging right that those Yanks were squirrely ay? Why don’t others learn something from someone else’s mistakes? Gee, its tiresome. Look at Europe - haven’t we seen what has happened over and over?

Really Canada, stop, stop, stop! Learn what has happened since Roe v Wade in the US.
We have slid down the slope and haven’t much further to go unless we scream to a stop!


#13

Part of the problem and one of the things that entourages people to consider assisted suicide is that our doctors are often not very good at pain management for patients in the end stage of diseases such as cancer, etc. They often don’t give enough morphine or other drugs to manage the pain. And sometimes it’s not even just doctors. I actually had a relative whose mother was days from dying and was in a lot of pain and he didn’t want her to have morphine because he was concerned she might become addicted to it.


#14

You might be thinking of Richard Lamm (AKA Governor Gloom). Although it was widely reported in 1984 that Lamm gave a speech stating the elderly had a “duty to die,” he claims he never used that phrase. However, even if he didn’t use that exact phrase, it seems fairly close to his intent. His central argument was that elderly people who are ill, and require massive health care spending, are a burden on society.

Here is a 1984 news article. The footnote discusses whether misreporting occurred.

nytimes.com/1984/03/29/us/gov-lamm-asserts-elderly-if-very-ill-have-duty-to-die.html


#15

I’ve only quoted part of your post, but I think you bring up a lot of good points. I only hope I can return the favor. Here’s why I am opposed to introducing physician assisted suicide.

#1) I’m concerned at the effect this will have on a publicly funded system. Ultimately,physician assisted suicide is cheap. I think you and I can both agree on that. What concerns me is that other forms of end of life care are not, in fact, cheap. They require infrastructural investment (such as hospice centers) as well as educational investment (appropriate training).

Unfortunately, in Canada and elsewhere in the world, such investment is lacking. I’ve been told by physicians that the average amount of time spent training in palliative medicine for a veterinarian is more than the average medical student. I’ve also been told than in many circumstances, pain medication is managed poorly. With appropriate investment end of life care could be enhanced. I wonder how many people who might now opt for physician assisted suicide might have chosen otherwise should the appropriate resources have been in place.

I recognize that proponents of physician assisted suicide are not attempting to attack other forms of end-of-life care, but this law will have the unintentional effect of doing just that. Considering how stretched our system already is, let alone how stretched it will be in the near future with a graying population, I can’t imagine that the system will invest more resources into obtaining optimal end-of-life care. I’d be surprised if it will even keep the status quo now that it is no longer “necessary”.

#2) I’m concerned that access to physician assisted suicide will effect the care of patients. There will doubtlessly be some instances where a patient comes to a circle of care with a serious, terminal condition who might want to keep fighting but whose physicians or team members may feel would be better off opting for physician assisted suicide. In those occasions, although I’m confident that most physicians and healthcare providers wouldn’t let that assessment alter their treatment plan or quality of care, I’m also rather confident that there is the possibility for subconscious consequences for that belief.

What might that look like? Perhaps physicians or rehab professionals won’t advocate as strongly for particular treatments or therapies which those same healthcare professionals would have pushed for in the absence of physician assisted suicide. Perhaps they begin to steer their patients thoughts and decisions to approach physician assisted suicide. Perhaps they give up sooner, try less, and overall deal with their patients differently than they might have if physician assisted suicide wasn’t an option. It may not be a huge affect, but even subtle forces have big impacts on quality of care and health outcome.

#3) Physician assisted suicide tends to be introduced at an extraordinarily vulnerable time in people’s lives. The shock of a sudden diagnosis or change in health may cause people to think and act in ways that they wouldn’t want for or after. Some of those individuals will end up depressed. I know there are safeguards designed to prevent this, but no system is perfect, and I think it’s safe to say that at least some people who will opt for physician assisted suicide might have chosen differently had they chosen different forms of treatment.

Beyond that, there’s may be subtle pressure by either the family, the healthcare provider, or society at large to opt for physician assisted suicide, especially in a public system. Is is possible that patients will be subtly shamed for taking up healthcare resources instead of opting for a quick and cheap passing? Is it possible that in order to spare their loved ones pain a patient may opt for euthanasia although they, themselves, would prefer to live? Is it possible that family may put subtle pressure on a loved one to end their life out of a desire for gain (be that financial or simply ending what is frequently a very trying time in a person’s life)? I suspect that at least some of the time this is the case.

#4) I’m concerned that laws like physician assisted suicide perpetuate a view that the lives of the sick, the disabled, and the terminally ill have less value as human beings. You mention that able bodied individuals have no barriers to suicide. That’s not true. There is a whole infrastructure in the healthcare system designed to prevent people from killing themselves. If you walk into your hospital right now and declare a serious intent to kill yourself, you’ll find yourself involuntarily confined until you receive treatment and no longer hold that opinion. Why does the government and the system go out of its way to save your life but will actually help people end their life? Because society places more value on your life than there life. I’m not sure how comfortable I am that some people have value (and are thus worth saving) and others have less value (and therefor are not worth saving).

Continued in the next post…


#16

#5) I’m concerned what message this sends to those who are considering suicide but who are not among those we would typically consider “eligible” for physician assisted suicidal. I’ve struggled with suicidal ideation at some points in my life. One of the things that spared my hand, so to speak, was the notion that suicide is not an acceptable way to approach my problems. Now my life situation was nowhere near as difficult as those who we envision using physician assisted suicide, but depression isn’t a rational animal. I wouldn’y be surprised if at least some individuals are nudged towards attempting or even completing suicide based on a growing acceptance of suicide as a solution.

#6) I have heard that a good proportion of those wishing to end their lives do not do so because of pain but because of social circumstances. People feel alone. They feel abandoned. They feel like burdens to their loved ones. At vulnerable moments like this, we know that family, friends, and others should rally around the vulnerable to affirm them in their dignity and worth. Sadly, this isn’t the case. These issues need to be addressed, and physician assisted suicide is an inappropriate way to address them. I think there are better solutions to the problems posed by end-of-life care than homicide.

#7) As a Canadian citizen, and a tax payer, anything funded by the government is ultimately my concern. If you, or anyone else, chooses to end their life by physician assisted suicide than I’ve had a hand in making that possible.


#17

The Church doesn’t say you must sustain life. It does want the patient kept as comfortable and as pain free as possible. I had a family member who opted for hospice care and not the hospital because it would have used every way to have kept her alive. She was given 18 months with cancer that was not curable. I know you wouldn’t believe it, but she had a peaceful death.
Another had heart problems and had been functioning for YEARS on 17% of his heart. Went abroad, did everything. He too had hospice and a peaceful death.
My Mom was easy to care for with Alzheimers. I don’t know why. Maybe it is where the disease was in her brain. Anyway, we were able to care for her in our home. She improved the first year. Before she was living alone. She eventually died again peacefully.


#18

The bill, as it stands, (and it’s just been introduced for first reading, so could change), does not recognize mental health issues as valid reasons for seeking assisted suicide.

#6) I have heard that a good proportion of those wishing to end their lives do not do so because of pain but because of social circumstances. People feel alone. They feel abandoned. They feel like burdens to their loved ones. At vulnerable moments like this, we know that family, friends, and others should rally around the vulnerable to affirm them in their dignity and worth. Sadly, this isn’t the case. These issues need to be addressed, and physician assisted suicide is an inappropriate way to address them. I think there are better solutions to the problems posed by end-of-life care than homicide.

Heard this where, exactly? Do you have some actual studies to cite?

#7) As a Canadian citizen, and a tax payer, anything funded by the government is ultimately my concern. If you, or anyone else, chooses to end their life by physician assisted suicide than I’ve had a hand in making that possible.

We all doubtless pay for many things we don’t approve of. The fact is that not only the courts, but a majority of Canadians do not view assisted suicide as dimly as you do.


#19

Check out Professor Peter Singer at Princeton. He believes, among many other things including assisted suicide, that a birth certificate should be withheld until the infant is two years of age. This will give the parents and the state time enough to evaluate the child to see if he will be an asset to the world or a drain. If it is the latter, the child can be euthanized. :signofcross:


#20

I’m not going to speak to your anecdote, clearly you hold it dear and I wasn’t there. In general, people with Alzheimers and other forms of dementia do not get better. Perhaps at some point there may be medical treatments that can restore some cognitive ability and short and long term memory issues, but that day isn’t here yet, and while the progression of dementia, as with the progression of any congenital illness, will not be smooth, and may even show brief improvements, in the end, it will rob the sufferer of their minds; their ability to think, their emotions, their memories, their very personality will fade as the damage to the brain takes out more and more functions.

The problem here is that the lower brain, if it is affected at all, only becomes affected very late in the course of the disease. In other words, the autonomic and basic functions; the parts of the brain that control heartbeat, respiration, sleep, digestion and excretion can continue functioning for years after the higher centers have been partially or completely destroyed. I have no desire to be a mindless cadaver, only considered alive because the autonomic nervous system is still keeping basic functions going

I don’t even want to get to that point. I had close relatives with dementia, who went through even worse stages; hallucinations, violent outbursts, and probably the worst was the early stages when they knew something was wrong. My own grandfather went into a persistent vegetative state after multiple strokes, and that was a mercy, because before that he still had enough cognitive ability and memory left to realize what he was losing. His frustration and anger would boil over sometimes.

If you wish to live through that, I can respect it. I think that’s a choice every person deserves to have. But I expect the same respect from everyone here, that, when the time comes and I decide I no longer want the decline to continue, or no longer want to suffer, then I can choose, as an adult, to end my life, either by my own hand, or with assistance. I am harming no one, and, I feel, saving my family and society as a whole the vast costs involved in keeping me alive.

And really, when it comes to terminal illnesses like many cancers, you don’t just slip away. I’ve seen people dying of lung cancer whose end was frankly horrible, and the only way it was “dealt with” was with massive doses of morphine, left, at best in a stupor, and usually not even that, not even conscious. The irony is that a few hundred more units of morphine and the central nervous system would be sufficiently depressed that the sufferer would simply stop breathing and that would be an end, quick and painless.


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