I admire the Archbishop of Montreal, Christian Lépine, for speaking out against the new euthanasia program that our politicians have sanctified by calling “medical aid in dying.” Rumour has it that he was forced to buy his own space to do so, inasmuch as Quebec papers proved unwilling to make room on their comment pages for representatives of the Assembly of Bishops to address Bill 52.

I also admire  The Gazette’s strategy (10 Feb. 2014, A12) in placing his ad alongside this eye-catching ad for Séduction, making almost a full page devoted to that subject. For seduction is just what talk of “medical aid in dying” is: the promise to care for your body and its passions, while secretly destroying your soul.

         

The truly demonic nature of this bill—as a theologian I do not use that adjective lightly—is to be found, however, not only in its sanctification of suicide. It can be seen also in its attempt to force public institutions and healthcare personnel to become complicit in both suicide and murder, through a mandated process of cooperation with ministerial directives and demands for referral.

Let us be clear: Administering lethal dosages of medication, where the intended (rather than merely foreseen) effect is to end a life, is murder, just as shooting a “patient” is murder, even if he or she has requested it. Hence referral of the patient for such a procedure is complicity in murder, and as such a mortal sin.

This bill, however, will leave the conscientious objector subject to punitive sanctions, which shows that it has the character, not merely of seduction, but of coercion. Moreover, it will have the effect, over the long haul, of purging the medical profession and healthcare services of people with informed and functioning consciences, depriving us all of the basic presumption of integrity in healthcare.

Systematic healthcare was, historically, a gift of the Church to society. It is good to see the Church standing up for it, in its intrinsic connection to the question of human dignity and of human destiny. If, as seems likely, this bill is passed later this month, we shall find out how far the Church is prepared to stand with those doctors, nurses, and administrators whose consciences will soon come under the most direct and severe assault.

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