Expansion of Euthanasia: Bill C-7
Bill C-7 Has Been Approved – Bill C-7, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), loosening rules and expanding eligibility for medically-provided euthanasia / assisted suicide was approved in the House of Commons March 11, 2021, with the Senate agreeing to the revised bill on March 17, 2021. The new legislation expands access to medically-provided euthanasia and assisted suicide, removing the requirement that a person’s death must be “reasonably foreseeable,” and opening access to those with mental illness.
Please continue to pray and to advocate for the most vulnerable in our society, and do continue to contact elected representatives with your concerns.
Catholic bishops’ statements:
Friday, December 18 2020 – Following the adoption of Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying) at Third Reading in the House of Commons and the announcement by the Superior Court of Québec to grant a two-month extension to the federal government on its deadline to legislate, the Executive Committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) issued a response calling on legislators to “… conscientiously rethink this current legislation and the amendments being considered in advance of the formal parliamentary review. This would demonstrate accountability and transparency, ensuring the trust that Canadians should have in their members of Parliament. It is not too late to reconsider Canada’s approach to euthanasia and assisted suicide, in order to ensure an ethical response, one that promotes the inherent dignity of each human person when faced with the profound questions surrounding what it means to be human, the quality of life, human suffering, death and dying.”
The CCCB was invited to testify at the Senate pre-study of Bill C-7 conducted by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Wednesday Nov. 25. Calgary Bishop William McGrattan was asked by the CCCB Executive Committee to testify on behalf of the CCCB. Bishop McGrattan’s testimony can be viewed on the CCCB’s YouTube channel at: https://youtu.be/6BeFUIV0EUA or below:
The CCCB is continuing its advocacy work together with the groups of disability advocates, physicians, legal professionals, and religious on Bill C-7.
The CCCB likewise requested to testify in front of the Committee, but was not chosen. However, there were several other witnesses and organizations who were invited and who would convey concerns similar to those of the CCCB: Dr. Catherine Ferrier, President – Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia; Michel Racicot, Lawyer – Living With Dignity/Vivre dans la Dignité; Dr. Catherine Frazee, Professor Emerita, School of Disability Studies, Ryerson University; and Dr. Heidi Janz, Chair, Ending-of-Life Ethics Committee, Council of Canadians with Disabilities.
On Oct. 20, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement condemning Bill C-7, identifying the need for palliative care, and calling on Catholics and all people of good will to contact elected officials to express opposition to the legislation. The CCCB statement also affirms: “Similarly, all Canadian legislators should recall that no law that permits the taking of innocent human life can ever be morally justified” and raises the question: “How can the federal government in good conscience expand the eligibility to euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada when our country and its citizens are still unable to offer basic human care to the elderly and dying?”
Statements from other groups:
Other groups are also opposing Bill C-7 and the expansion of eligibility for medically-provided euthanasia. Recent statements include:
- Joint ecumenical and interfaith statement – in English and in French;
- Statement by the group of disability advocates opposing Bill C-7, prepared by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and Inclusion Canada and endorsed by a broad spectrum of disability rights advocates (formerly Canadian Association for Community Living) – in English and in French;
- Statement by a group of physicians opposing Bill C-7, prepared by concerned physicians and endorsed by over 600 physicians in Canada – in English and in French. To view signatories see their website: www.MAID2MAD.ca,
- Statement by a group of legal professionals opposing Bill C-7, prepared by the Christian Legal Fellowship and endorsed by over 140 legal professional / students – the statement is available in English and in French at this LINK..
In a recent report, the Office of the Correctional Investigator has called for “an absolute moratorium on providing MAiD inside a federal penitentiary, regardless of circumstance” due to “fundamental questions around consent, choice, and dignity […] a series of errors, omissions, inaccuracies, delays and misapplications of law and policy.” The full report can be viewed at the following links: in English: https://www.oci-bec.gc.ca/cnt/rpt/pdf/annrpt/annrpt20192020-eng.pdf or in French: https://www.oci-bec.gc.ca/cnt/rpt/pdf/annrpt/annrpt20192020-fra.pdf
Angus Reid Polling and Cardus (think tank) have recently released new polling data on Canadian attitudes towards medically-provided euthanasia. Among other things, the polling data demonstrates that Canadians have a much more nuanced view of euthanasia / assisted suicide than is often reported by the Government of Canada, or organizations like Dying with Dignity. Please see the report at: https://www.cardus.ca/news/news-releases/expanded-medical-assistance-in-dying-ignores-mainstream-concerns/ (available in English only)
More resources for responding to Bill C-7:
“A Blessing Not A Burden” – Please contact the federal government and your MP to speak out against Bill C-7, which will expand eligibility for medically-provided euthanasia / assisted suicide in Canada. The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience has provided a platform to reach one’s Member of Parliament easily, as well as an online sample letter which can be rewritten or modified by any person wishing to use it. Website links to e-mail submission page:
Two short YouTube videos have also been produced on this relevant and important issue:
OTHER RESOURCES related to Euthanasia issue
Call to Conscience:
With physician-assisted suicide (euthanasia) now legal in Canada, healthcare practitioners and facilities in some provinces are in a compromised position. Those who cannot support assisted suicide or euthanasia because of their conscience, faith, or commitment to the Hippocratic Oath are forced to compromise their convictions. This is wrong.
The Coalition for Healthcare and Conscience is working to protect conscience rights of health care professionals: Canadians for Conscience
How to Get Involved:
Protection of Conscience: www.canadiansforconscience.ca/
Vulnerable Persons Standard: www.vps-npv.ca/
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition: www.epcc.ca
Finding the Gifts:
“Finding the Gifts” is a video project funded by the Knights of Columbus. The Communications and Education sub-committee of a Bishop’s Advisory Group produced the videos hoping to capture the gift of life and hope that can be found even in difficult circumstances. View the videos here:
L’Arche: a community of caring
Care for the Elderly
Dying Healed workshops:
The Dying Healed workshop teaches important issues about human suffering, human dignity and the power of human presence, as well as other end of life issues.
The workshop includes important pastoral and practical aspects of what to say, how to listen, and how to be with people who suffer illness, disability and loneliness. It is intended to be a preparatory training for those who would like to spend time with people who are elderly, ill, disabled and dying; those people who are the most vulnerable to the negative influences to Canada’s euthanasia and assisted suicide law.
Those interested in hosting a Dying Healed workshop can contact Jacqueline Saretsky at (306) 292-5531 or Email email@example.com for more information.
Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan issue three texts related to the issue:
The documents released Feb. 6, 2017 include:
- A Pastoral Letter – Living Through Our Dying – The bishops say that the Pastoral Letter is “addressed to our brothers and sisters in faith and all people who have the gift of life. Our aim with this letter was to initiate a dialogue with our culture, recognizing that many struggle to see our opposition to PAS as an expression of compassion. We wanted to articulate what we stand for (more than what we oppose), to recognize the challenge of placing our trust in God, and to extend the invitation to hope that our faith offers.”
- A Pastoral Reflection – Jesus: the Word Who is Life This text is directed towards parishioners, and could be used as a homily (for instance during Lent) or for catechetical purposes. It works from a paschal perspective, speaking of human dying under the headings of Jesus in our living, our dying and our hope for resurrection. The bishops say the Pastoral Reflection “situates the Paschal Mystery as the foundation of our understanding of the meaning of human dying. It is intended to be formative catechesis primarily for our own faithful, but it may well be of use to our Christian brothers and sisters as well.”
- A set of guidelines for priests, deacons and laity providing pastoral care to the sick and dying – Care for the Dying: Pastoral Directives which the bishops say are “intended to give support and guidance to those ministering to people facing the end of their lives. It was our hope to write guidelines which would equip those in ministry to follow Jesus faithfully, while extending his invitation of faith and life to those tempted to choose the circumstances of their own death.”
The three texts were released Feb. 6, 2017 – exactly two years after the Supreme Court decision that struck down the ban on physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. The new reality came into effect across the country when Bill C-14 received royal assent in June 2016. The documents from the Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan were released to mark the World Day of the Sick, Feb. 11.
Other pastoral letters from the Saskatchewan bishops on issues raised by legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia include:
- Pastoral Letter re: Legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia – July 2015
- Pastoral Letter March 2016 – March 2016
Death with Dignity
FAQ – Video 1
FAQ – Video 2