Alta. bishops respond to parliamentary committee

March 7, 2016

Re: Medical Assistance In Dying: A Patient-Centred Approach

Report of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying

The report released today is deeply disappointing to all of us who have raised concerns about the proposed legalization of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.

We do welcome the report's recommendations for enhanced palliative care services across the country. But language must be clear. Palliative care excludes assisted suicide and euthanasia. It is morally unacceptable to describe hastened death as a treatment option or form of care.

As bishops we continue to study the document, but at first reading we find that many of its recommendations go far beyond the mandate stemming from the Supreme Court of Canada Carter decision.

That decision was, itself, a grave disappointment, since, as we have said, it makes legally permissible in some circumstances what is morally wrong in every circumstance.

If implemented, these recommendations of the special joint committee, far from limiting the harm of the Carter decision, would expand it.

We would fail to protect some of the most vulnerable people among us - children, the mentally ill, the socially or economically disadvantaged - and force physicians to be involved in a practice in which most of them have said they do not wish to participate.

Again, we call for the use of language that is clear. This is not a matter of "medical assistance in dying." What is at issue here is state-sponsored killing of the innocent. Killing is not medicine. This has no place in a just and ethical society.

Among the troubling recommendations are:

Furthermore, medical professionals who refuse for reasons of conscience direct or indirect participation must also be protected from intimidation and discrimination.

We urge all Catholics and all Canadians to read this report carefully, and communicate their concerns to their loved ones, their physicians, and their nembers of Parliament.

The Catholic Bishops of Alberta
February 25, 2016