Faith groups that speak against as- sisted suicide and euthanasia are commonly accused of trying to impose our morality on others.
Canadians understand our opposition
is rooted in our faith. Yet they wonder
why we are trying to limit access even for
others who think such practices are okay.
Why not allow legalization for those
who want it, and just live out our beliefs by
refusing life-ending actions for ourselves?
The answer requires some background.
In Canada attempted suicide was decrim-
inalized decades ago – not because we as
a society wanted to encourage suicide, but
because we felt the proper response is care
and compassion, not criminal charges.
Until now, assisting someone in suicide
has remained illegal. But the Supreme
Court’s recent Carter decision says exemptions should be allowed.
Our current national debate is about
whether we should allow such exceptions
and, if so, whether governments should
provide the assistance or offer euthanasia.
(Assisting can mean providing lethal medication, whereas it becomes euthanasia
when the helper actually administers it.)
The reason for the blanket ban on as-
sisted suicide has been twofold – to pro-
mote life and protect the vulnerable.
The government has argued the sanctity of human life is a valid goal to promote in Canadian society. Respect for
life is integral to our health care system
and social welfare programs. It shapes
our social policy and is an underlying
ethos of our Criminal Code. The harshest
penalties are reserved for those who take
the life of another.
The Supreme Court has said the “
sanctity of life is one of our most fundamental
societal values.” A few years ago a private
member’s bill was passed to develop a
federal framework for the prevention of
suicide. Many provinces have programs to
The second purpose of the ban is the
protection of vulnerable persons. Many
people in Canada are vulnerable due to a
variety of factors such as poverty, addiction,
stresses, lack of community – these are
often referred to as the social determinants
of health. Other factors include chronic
What you need to
know: Clergy wellness,
Would you like to chat with experts
from the Canadian evangelical
community on issues that matter?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could
ask them specific questions and
get an immediate, understandable
answer? That’s what happens live
online during EFC webinars. The
discussions are also recorded for
those unable to attend.
Our three most recent webinars
tackled clergy wellness (how
should churches help pastors avoid
burnout?), assisted suicide (what
can we do about the legal changes
happening now?) and palliative
care (how can we help Canada
improve care for the dying so they
feel loved and pain free instead of
requesting assisted suicide?).
All recent EFC webinars are
available free online at www.
There’s also a link there for
details about upcoming webinars.
Oppose assisted suicide
Have you added your name to
the thousands of Canadians
calling our government to protect
vulnerable Canadians and improve
palliative care? You can do so at
Organizers including the EFC
were pleased to surpass 15,000
signatories in February to
support for limits to euthanasia
and physician-assisted suicide.
The declaration was developed
in October by the EFC and the
Canadian Conference of Catholic
Bishops (aussi disponible
The EFC also released a popular
study guide ( www.theEFC.ca/
made a 10-page submission to
the Special Joint Parliamentary
Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, and issued a
call to supporters to contact
their MPs ( www.theEFC.ca/
Letters on imprisoned
pastor, assisted death,
The EFC sent several letters
to government and regulatory
bodies in recent weeks. They
include two letters to Canada’s
minister of foreign affairs, one
urging him to continue to support
the Office of Religious Freedom,
the other regarding Rev. Hyeon
Soo Lim, the Canadian pastor
jailed in North Korea. Another
letter went to the College of
Physicians and Surgeons of
Ontario Consultation on Interim
Guidance on Physician-Assisted
Death. The EFC also wrote to
Canada’s minister of health to
express concern over media
reports that donors of human
ova are receiving payment above
their expenses, contrary to law.
Details at www.theEFC.ca/letters.
Practical EFC resources
on helping refugees
How can your church sponsor
refugees and best respond to
the largest refugee crisis the
world has seen since the Second
World War? Visit www.theEFC.
a link to the December EFC
webinar – “How Can Your Church
Help Refugees?” – in which
News FROM THE EFC
We don’t seek to
impose our morality
Christians seek the best for our land
THE GATHERING PLACE
BRUCE J. CLEMENGER