How Canadians can help shape new Medical Assistance in Dying legislation
Aging as we are, my spouse and I sat down to fill out the government’s survey on “medical assistance in dying” (MAID). Like most Canadians, we have disease in our family genes that could cause dying to be hard. We also like choice: we are benefactors of a generational shift in individual rights that puts us in charge of our freedoms, and we also choose to put God first in our freedoms.
Three chilling issues are before Canada: (1) Should MAID be used when mental illness is the sole reason for requesting assisted death? (2) Should it be allowed for cases under the age of 18? (3) Should it be allowed on the basis of an advanced written request before capacity to consent is lost? The government survey being asked of Canadians is mainly focused on (3) advanced request, and it reads like it assumes you agree with MAID.
It is important we take time to put our own ethical concerns into the government’s survey before it expires on January 27, 2020. Prof. John Stackhouse, reflecting on the Truchon -Gladu case which launched the federal review, wrote about how difficult it is for Christian ethics to shape legislation on dying:
“This is the coming inflection point—the time in which we Christians give up even implicitly counting on a cultural consensus on the sacredness of life. When large numbers of Canadians don’t believe in a God who created human beings with a dignity such that no life could be ended without the gravest of divine permissions, but instead believe that human life is merely a condition that each person can enjoy just as much as he or she wants to—then we can only discuss and debate, and then vote.”
On this government survey, Christian Canadians can at least have a small voice in the debate, and our voices could be amplified by a letter or phone call to our Member of Parliament, and in writing to Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Justice Minister David Lametti.
I’m not arguing to take away people’s choice, but rather for all the relevant issues to be considered in the well-being of Canada’s future. What will our decisions on MAID imply for the dignity and freedom of people with disabilities or mental illnesses? What will MAID teach our children and shape the Canada they will lead? The list of what to consider could go on, but today we have a place to register those views, in part, on a government survey, and we should take this opportunity to do so.
Belief in God does shape what natural death looks like, and how to secure an afterlife in a perfect world of love, and how to bring spiritual comfort to the end of life in between. That belief in God stands as a firm foundation for why we work to alleviate fear, loneliness and pain, and to be caregiving companions in the suffering of death.