This article was published online by First Things on March 4, 2016.
By Wesley Smith
Last year, the Canadian Supreme Court created a right to euthanasia and assisted suicide. To qualify for death, the court ruled unanimously, one must be a competent adult with a medically diagnosed condition causing “irremediable suffering”—a circumstance wholly determined by the patient and including “psychological suffering.”
The decision went well beyond mere legalization. Indeed, the court manufactured an enforceable legal right for qualified patients to receive what Canadian policymakers are euphemistically calling “medical aid in dying” (MAID).
But what about doctors opposed to euthanasia? The court left with Parliament and the medical colleges (associations) the decision of whether and how to accommodate doctors with conscience objections, granting a one-year (now extended) period within which to enact laws to govern the practice. Since then, civil liberties groups, provincial medical colleges, and official government commissions have urged Parliament [see here and here] to pass laws that would coerce doctors who are religiously or philosophically opposed to euthanasia to cooperate actively in mercy killings by forcing them to procure death doctors for their patients. Here’s how the federal panel put it:
RECOMMENDATION 10 That the Government of Canada work with the provinces and territories and their medical regulatory bodies to establish a process that respects a health care practitioner’s freedom of conscience while at the same time respecting the needs of a patient who seeks medical assistance in dying. At a minimum, the objecting practitioner must provide an effective referral for the patient.
Gobbledygook: Requiring “effective referral” would materially violate—not respect—a “practitioner’s freedom of conscience” through forced complicity in euthanasia, thereby trampling his faith under the boot of the state.
All of this would seem to fly in the face of Canada’s 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states, “Everyone has the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion.” Illustrating the utter lack of regard that secularized Canada now has for religious liberty, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association—that country’s counterpart to the ACLU—applauded the parliamentary committee’s callto stomp upon religious conscience as a “promising step forward.”
Doctors aren’t the only ones threatened with religious persecution under Canada’s looming euthanasia regime. Provincial and federal commissions have both recommended that nurses, physician’s assistants, and other such licensed medical practitioners be allowed to do the actual euthanizing under the direction of a doctor.