Lament for the passage of Bill C-7, for ‘the devaluing of human life’

Gerard Quinn, UN Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, opposed Bill C-7, saying disabled people may feel pressured to seek medically assisted death.

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) laments that Bill C-7 passed into law on March 17.

This bill changed Canada’s law on medical assistance in dying (MAID) in crucial and tragic ways. It allows people who are not dying to be eligible for euthanasia and assisted suicide.

For those who are dying, the bill removes key safeguards like a mandatory 10-day reflection period and the requirement for two independent witnesses to a request for euthanasia.

And, in a change that will take effect in 2023, it will allow hastened death for those with mental illness alone.

We lament the devaluing of human life. The EFC is fundamentally opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide, but we have consistently fought for the strongest possible protections and safeguards within a legalized regime to try to minimize the harm and risk to vulnerable Canadians.

We grieve, as well, that Canada is offering hastened death to people who are far too often not able to access the help and support they need to live. We heard the clear message of people with disabilities, “Our lives are on the line.”

Along with many others, we pressed for this legislation to be substantially changed or defeated. Every national disability group in Canada, UN human rights experts and countless others voiced objections and deep concerns. In spite of this, the bill was not only passed, but provisions were added to extend its reach farther.

It is unconscionable that we would make it easier to access an assisted death in Canada than it is to receive quality palliative care, or than it is for individuals living with disability, chronic illness or mental illness to access the medical and social supports they need to enjoy living on an equal basis with other Canadians. In Canada, it shouldn’t be easier to have help in ending your life than to get the support and care you need to live.

Now that the bill has passed, vulnerable Canadians face new and heightened risks. We who believe every life is invaluable need to reach out and support our neighbours.

As we hold fast to the hope that God gives us, we can share that hope with others as we look for practical, tangible ways to serve them. We follow Jesus’ example to lay down our lives for others.

Now is the time for compassionate, hope-fueled outreach.

Our families, friends and neighbours who are elderly, who live with disability or chronic illness, or who struggle with mental health need to know that their lives have value and inherent dignity, regardless of illness, injury or disability. They need to know that they are loved, that they are essential members of our families and communities. They need to know that they are not alone, and that help and support are available.

These changes also make the need for strong, specific conscience protection for medical professionals even more urgent. The EFC has been pressing all along for clear protection to ensure medical professionals and institutions will not be compelled to participate in killing their patients. Together, let’s ask for strong, specific conscience protection to be put in place both provincially and federally.

This comment first appeared on the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada site and is re-posted here by permission.

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