The accelerated adoption of the Euthanasia law in Canada has thrown us into a troubling attack on the sanctity of life. Initially introduced by the Canadian Government to alleviate severe physical suffering, the law is now being suggested as a method to "manage" mental health conditions.
Bill C-7, an amendment to the Criminal Code relating to medical assistance in dying (MAiD), proposes expanding eligibility for MAiD by removing the requirement that a person's natural death must be reasonably foreseeable. This could allow individuals not nearing the end of their lives, including those with mental illnesses such as depression, to avail themselves of this provision.
Since its adoption, over 31,000 medically assisted suicides have occurred in Canada - a number projected to rise significantly with the planned expansion of the law to include those suffering from mental health conditions.
However, mental health illnesses are highly treatable. Symptoms can be managed, and lives can be lived to the fullest. Broadening access to MAiD is not the solution, particularly when our priority should be to choose life over death.
We must ensure all efforts are taken to protect the most vulnerable from medically assisted premature death, which can be prevented with adequate treatment and care. We should ensure that those suffering from mental illness are treated medically, not through assisted dying.
Conservative MP Ed Fast has brought forward a Private Members Bill C-314 to rescind the government’s decision to expand Canada’s assisted suicide laws. The bill asserts that medical assistance in dying should not apply to persons suffering solely from mental illness. The vote will take place by members of parliament on October 18th.
As the CCCB urges all the faithful in their Open Letter in May 2023: “We encourage individual Catholics and their families, faith communities, Catholic healthcare professionals and any other people of good will to continue courageously and unwaveringly to witness to life, to tend to and accompany the sick, to resist pressure to support or participate in ‘MAiD,’ and to pray that our law makers may see the harm in what they are permitting to take place.”
Let's continue to pray for those living with mental health challenges and illnesses and those who care for them, that God may strengthen them in hope, and that they may find the support they need from family, healthcare professionals, faith communities, and others.
The Catholic Women's League (CWL), a national organization of Catholic women, emphasizes the sanctity of human life as one of their key missions. Amidst the pressing social justice issue of inadequate mental health and palliative care services in Canada, and the critical concern surrounding MAiD, they are urging members and the faithful to take action and reach out to their Member of Parliament, requesting support for Bill C-314. With the vote scheduled for October 18th, time is critical. Please share this vital message with your family and friends.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers