One of the most challenging issues today is the question of how to die. Thanks to medical advancements, a person with a terminal illness can be kept alive for a very long time with no quality of life. This has resulted in a worldwide push for the adoption of euthanasia. In 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that criminalizing euthanasia violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In 2016, the Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-14, the Medical Assistance In Dying or MAID law.
In 2021, the Canadian Parliament passed a more expansive MAID law called C-7, allowing mental disorders to be sufficient grounds for euthanasia. That year, euthanasia became Canada’s sixth leading cause of death, with 10,064 deaths reported. The expanded MAID law allows people who are nowhere near death to be euthanized. Anyone experiencing dependence or feeling that their life lacks dignity is a fit candidate for euthanasia under C-7. Having to wear diapers or drooling could potentially qualify a person. In addition, persons with disabilities who can’t afford housing that would meet their needs are being euthanized.
One of the main problems with legalizing euthanasia is the “slippery slope” it creates. That is already becoming evident in Canada. The Quebec College of Physicians recently called for parents to be allowed to euthanize infants younger than one year. Nevertheless, various churches in Canada have not opposed MAID. The United Church, Canada’s largest Protestant denomination, released a statement saying, “we are not opposed in principle to the legislation allowing assistance in dying.” The Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have supported MAID.
Evangelical, Pentecostal, Anabaptist, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox Church leaders, along with Jews and Muslims, have opposed MAID. Also, various disability organizations, such as the Canadian Council on Disabilities, have been vocal against the euthanasia issue.
The Canadian experiment with the MAID law should alert us that euthanasia is not the answer to what to do with the disabled or those in extreme pain. Instead, in our day of medical advances, the emphasis should be on combatting pain and allowing people with disabilities to live productive, dignified lives. Just as Jesus ministered to the poor and disadvantaged, so should we.
— John N. Clayton © 2023
Reference: “Where Are the Churches in Canada’s Euthanasia Experiment?” by Benjamin Crosby, Plough magazine for Spring 2023