Today marks a historic day for Canada, but not the kind of day that we are celebrating at the National House of Prayer. The ruling of the Supreme Court in lifting the ban on physician assisted suicide and requires that a new law will not only be limited to those who are suffering a terminal illness, but includes those who are enduring either physical or mental suffering.
We are saddened but not surprised by today’s decision and we’re sure that many are asking the question ” How did concern for protecting the rights of vulnerable persons from abuse and error in 1993 had the Supreme Court leave the law as is, and today, it was interpreted by our Supreme Court Justices as impinging on a persons rights according to the Canadian Rights and Freedoms?”
The term suicide was replaced with the more acceptable words; “dying” and “death” in the 69 page judgment. We are already on the ‘slippery slope’.
Feb 6, 2015
Supreme Court: Assisted Suicide Decision
This is an emotional and divisive issue. In 1993 the Supreme Court up-held the criminal code prohibition on euthanasia and assisted suicide. Furthermore, in 2010 the people’s elected representatives voted overwhelmingly in parliament in opposition to changing the law. The government has already indicated it will carefully review the ruling and consult widely before responding to the ruling.
I voted with the majority of parliamentarians in opposition to a Bill to change the law in 2010. My own position is informed by a lifetime of study of the wonders of human body, its function and a career helping people overcome their challenges. I personally took an oath always to use the information that I had acquired in the patient’s best interest. My role and raison d’etre has always beento help people live well until they die.
Palliative care, end of life specialists, and caregivers like California- based Rachel Naomi Remen will tell you that there is a lot we don’t know about death and dying,; that perhaps there are aspects that are beyond our instruments ability to measure or analyze. Perhaps we ought to treat the process of dying with an abundance of care and respect.
That, of course, was the Gold Standard established by the ancient and revered Greek physician, Hippocrates. His famous Oath has been “customized” in recent decades. The original (medicinenet.com) reads in part:
“…I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my art.”
Doctors themselves will have to grapple with this issue. Will they side with “The Father of Medicine”, or embrace the brave new world that physicians disavowed for millennia?
For my part, I believe it is dark day for Canada and for the Court. There is an ancient proverb: ‘If the light that is in you is darkness how great is that darkness”!
Dr. James Lunney – Member of Parliament – Nanaimo – Alberni
- Pray for the parliamentary committee that will be charged with drafting a new law regarding assisted suicide. They will be hearing many expert witnesses representing various points of view. The Canadian Medical Association will request a role in helping to frame the new law as Canada’s doctors want to participate in the decision to ensure that the legislation is drafted in a way to protect our most vulnerable people.
- Pray that all the debate around this issue will adequately address the requirements of the court and at the same time be the best possible legislation in view of the circumstances we now find our nation in.
- Pray for Christian physicians and medical personnel, that this new law would not be able to apply pressure to these individuals to act against their conscience.
- Pray that Canadians will become engaged with this issue and take the opportunity to inform themselves and contact their Members of Parliament to share their concerns.