Catholic Bishops and pro-life groups in Canada have criticised a government report which recommends the legalising of assisted suicide, including for adolescents.
Following the issuing of the report compiled by the Special Joint Committee on Physician Assisted Dying, which offered 21 broad-ranging recommendations for government towards drafting a bill to implement assisted suicide across the nation, the prelates denounced the practice as “not part of health care” and called on the government to instead implement a national policy that protects every human life and respects individual conscience.
Writing on behalf of his fellow prelates, Bishop Douglas Crosby, president of the Canadian Bishops’ Conference stated: “The report’s recommendations are the approach of a ‘throwaway’ society. They do not reveal the face of God’s mercy. Killing the mentally and physically ill, whether young or aged, is contrary to caring for and loving one’s brother and sister.”
The Bishop’s message was echoed by numerous advocacy groups opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Natalie Sonnen of LifeCanada said of the report’s contents: “These recommendations are reckless, and broadly influenced by a radical philosophy of absolute autonomy. I think they go way beyond what the public had expected.”
Speaking on behalf of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, meanwhile, executive director Alex Schadenburg described the report recommendations as “a near worst-case scenario” and added: “We haven’t seen what the bill’s going to say, but we see the recommendations, and basically it’s a wide-open model with very little clear defining controls.”
Among the recommendations contained in the new report is a call for assisted suicide to be made available to those who are not terminally ill, and those with mental illness or with a psychiatric condition. The report also argues that adolescents who are judged to be ‘mature minors’ should also be allowed to seek assisted suicide.
The Canadian report came on the same day as finding from the United States revealed a 26% increase in those seeking assisted suicide in the state of Oregon, where the practice has been legal since 1997.
According to the Christian Institute, latest figures for the Oregon Public Health Division show that 132 people died by assisted suicide in 2015, up on the figure of 105 for the previous year. Recorded figures since the introduction of assisted suicide reveal a 12% annual increase annually.
On reasons given for seeking death, the Oregon figures show that 92% of people cite “losing autonomy” as a reason while 75% cited a “loss of dignity”.
More than 96 per cent of people sought assisted suicide because they felt “less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable”.