Colf Reaction to Quebec Select Committee on Dying with Dignity Report

Sunday, 01 April 2012
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Report of the Quebec Select Committee on Dying with Dignity 

COLF invites voters to express their discontent and their option for life 

The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) vigorously denounces many of the recommendations put forward by the Quebec Select Committee on Dying with Dignity in its report of March 22.  By opening the door to “euthanasia as physician assisted death”, the Committee chose to ignore the inherent dignity of the human person and the inestimable value of human life.  It also ignores the voices of two-thirds of the 427 groups and individuals who spoke during the public hearings last year, giving more weight to the position of pressure groups calling for the decriminalization of euthanasia and another practice which is intimately linked — assisted suicide. 

The first part of the report contains recommendations to improve palliative care.  Obviously we support these recommendations as we believe it essential to make palliative care accessible to all citizens; all are entitled to effective treatment of pain and to be accompanied at the end of life with genuinely compassionate human and spiritual care. 

However, the report suggests the removal from the Criminal Code of protections for some of our most defenseless citizens.  This would make it possible for authorities to ignore the killing of disabled, elderly or otherwise vulnerable persons (even against their wills). If we fail to protect the weakest of our citizens today, who will be at risk next? 

Recent history has a lot to say on this subject.  In countries that have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide — even where safeguards and restrictions have been put in place — human life has been further devalued to the point where particularly vulnerable individuals have been pressured to commit suicide in the name of cost efficiency. This danger is real and likely to increase as health care dollars shrink and demand for services swell. 

Disturbingly, if the Committee’s recommendations are implemented, physicians will have unprecedented power — the alarming power to end the lives of their patients.  Doctors opposed to euthanasia for reasons of conscience will be obliged to refer the patient seeking death to a physician willing to end their life. 

The report of the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity suggests a vision of human life in total opposition to that of the Catholic Church.  While recognizing the meaning of suffering lived in union with the Cross of Christ, the Church invites us to do everything we can to alleviate suffering — but not at the cost of eliminating the sufferer.  We need to discover how to be truly compassionate, how to enter into and share the suffering of others.  This is what a majority of Quebecers hope for:  properly funded province-wide palliative care. 

The Charest government must resist the push for euthanasia advanced by the Committee.  It is therefore essential that voters make it clear to their elected representatives (list of the members of the National Assembly) that they are opposed to the decriminalization of this deadly practice and that they want improved palliative care for all citizens who need it.