Cardinal says Canadians ‘have not thought much’ about doctor-assisted death

Published in the Toronto Star on March 16, 2016. Click here to read the post online.

TORONTO—The Archbishop of Toronto says he doesn’t think Canadians have put enough thought into medically assisted dying — and when they eventually do, they’ll realize it’s a bad idea.

Cardinal Thomas Collins weighed into the debate on assisted dying Sunday, reading a statement on the church’s position at a mass, while a written or videotaped version was presented to more than 200 Catholic churches across the Archdiocese of Toronto.

n his sermon, Collins said people are being “dazzled by sweet words,” but that assisted death is “most destructive to the human person, destructive to our society, our community.”

Collins told reporters outside the church that he thinks “people have not thought much about this,” and once they think more deeply about it, they’re likely to have second thoughts.

Laws surrounding assisted dying are currently in a state of limbo, as the Supreme Court of Canada has given the federal government until June to bring in new legislation. As it stands, Canadians who want an assisted death need permission from a Superior Court.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has prepared with an interim guide for medically-assisted death, in case such permission is granted.

Their guide says that a physician can’t be compelled to perform assisted death, but that they must offer their patient with an “effective referral” to a doctor who is willing offer it.

In his sermon, Collins said that for those doctors, effective referrals are a “violation of conscience.” He added that forcing Catholic doctors to refer patients to doctors who will perform assisted suicide is tantamount to religious discrimination.

The college said in a written statement that it doesn’t accept that argument. Spokeswoman Kathryn Clarke said a referral “does not foreshadow or guarantee” that the assisted death will be performed.

parliamentary committee has recommended that terminally ill Canadians should be able to seek medical help to die with few obstacles and that the mentally ill should not be excluded and that eventually “mature minors” should be included.

Collins expressed opposition to those findings as well as allowing people suffering from conditions like dementia to pre-schedule the date of their death.

He urged church members to contact their member of Parliament to expressed their concerns about how the new law is being drafted. The Supreme Court ruled last year that Canada’s ban on assisted suicide violates the right to life, liberty and security of the person.