Urgent action: June 2016
This has been a critical season to engage your local MP on euthanasia and assisted suicide – and it's not over yet.
Now that the bill has passed into law, please see our "Bill C-14: What it Means for Canadians and Next Steps." The EFC posted this nine-page PDF on June 21 at theEFC.ca/EuthanasiaOverview.
Below you will find our appeals for action from just before the assisted-dying law passed, for historical reference.
Please call and write your MP, the Minister of Justice and Senators from your province as soon as possible to ask for increased conscience protection in Bill C-14 and a return to the original rules that restricted eligibility for assisted suicide more narrowly.
Feel free to use these sample letters for an MP and for a Senator and draw on the materials below to customize them.
The EFC's Julia Beazley appeared recently (June 6, May 11, May 5) on 100 Huntley Street to summarize the situation, and on Context With Lorna Dueck (Feb. 26).
- Bill C-14 is moving quickly through Parliament, which means the current opportunity to make changes to the legislation will end shortly.
- The Senate is now considering Bill C-14 and voting on amendments. When it finishes, the bill will be sent back to the House of Commons. The House will then decide whether to accept all the Senate amendments or reject some and send the bill back to the Senate. Eventually a majority of the House and the Senate must agree on a final text.
- All EFC supporters are encouraged to contact their MP as soon as possible to ask them to reject Senate amendments that significantly expand the categories of people who would be eligible for assisted suicide and euthanasia and to press for conscience protection. See the EFC's latest letters (June 9) to government on these issues.
- Senators, too, need to hear from us, that the protections for vulnerable persons written into Bill C-14 must not be weakened but rather strengthened.
- The EFC opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide. However, as the federal government is going to allow these practices, we are urging them to put in place very strict limits and safeguards to protect conscience rights and the lives of vulnerable Canadians.
As you will see in the “Take Action” tab below, the EFC has prepared a variety of resources you can use. If we work together to call for conscience protection, we are more likely to have an impact. Please pray for our nation.
The federal government introduced Bill C-14, legislation to decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, on April 14, 2016. The legislation would create a Criminal Code exemption to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide for persons who are 18 years or older, with a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability, who are in an advanced state of irreversible decline and for whom death is “reasonably foreseeable.” Read the government’s summary of the legislation here. The government intends to have the legislation in place very quickly, by June 2016.
The EFC opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide. In its news release on Bill C-14, the EFC urged Parliamentarians to examine the risks inherent in the practices, and called for strong conscience protection for medical practitioners and institutions to be provided in the legislation. The EFC will continue to study the legislation and provide resources.
As the government is putting a law in place to allow these practices, it needs to hear clearly that Canadians want conscience protection for medical practitioners and institutions, and very strict limits around the practices to ensure such deaths are very rare and to protect the lives of vulnerable Canadians.
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Three things you can do:
1. Please call or email your MP, the Minister of Justice and Senators from your province as soon as possible. Your action will make a difference! Ask them to support conscience protection for medical practitioners AND institutions. Ask them to narrowly restrict elibility for assisted suicide, at least going back to the restrictions in the original bill (rather than accepting new Senate amendments and giving in to voices calling for children and teens or people suffering from psychological illness alone to also become eligible for assisted suicide).
- See the EFC's latest letters (June 9) to government on these issues. You may want to pattern your own letters after them.
- Many Senators and MPs are open to adding stronger wording around conscience protection. For example, after a pre-study of Bill C-14 in May, the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee recommended adding conscience protection (Recommendation #7).
- Another way to increase conscience protection is by private member's Bill C-268 (a Criminal Code amendment). You can use the EFC's sample letter to express support for this bill.
- The EFC has also prepared more generic sample letters on conscience protection that you can customize to write an MP or a Senator. Use materials from the "Learn more" section (below) to clarify your own thoughts and wording.
- The Senate has passed an amendment to widen the eligibility criteria in the bill, allowing people whose death is not "reasonably foreseeable" to be able to receive assisted suicide. EFC supporters can encourage MPs and Senators to resist such changes and instead to retain the criteria included in the original bill.
2. Sign the Declaration Against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (euthanasiadeclaration.ca) to call on the government to protect vulnerable Canadians and improve palliative care. Your endorsement shows cross-country support for strict limits to euthanasia and assisted suicide. The intended deadline for signing the declaration was Friday, June 3.
3. Learn more about the issue:
- Come back to this webpage often to check for updated resources on Bill C-14. Read through the information on the various tabs (e.g., “Background”).
- Watch one or more of the EFC's recorded webinars on the legalization of assisted suicide (the latest is from March 31). Since the last webinar, EFC staff have also appeared on 100 Huntley Street (May 11, May 5), on radio (1, 2) and at a Parliamentary committee hearing (on video, jump to time of 19:43).
- For individual study or small-group discussion, get the free EFC booklet Euthanasia + Palliative Care: A Guide for Canadians. It reprints eight key articles from the EFC magazine Faith Today and adds new discussion questions. Available in print or as a PDF for on-screen reading.
- Read our Briefing Kit to learn about the issues being considered in assisted-suicide laws. You can use the content for background when you contact your MP and Senator (see sample letters for an MP and for a Senator). Our kit consists of several documents you can download, print and email:
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Last February the Supreme Court of Canada ruled, in its decision in the Carter case, that there should be limited exemptions to Canada’s laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide. The court said that patients in specific circumstances, with a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring suffering, should be able to ask a physician to help them end their life, without penalty. (See the EFC’s summary and commentary on the decision at theEFC.ca/carter.)
The court has suspended its declaration until June 6 in order to give Parliament time to put in place regulations and safeguards on physician-assisted death.
A special joint parliamentary committee made recommendations to Parliament Feb. 25 to provide far more expansive access to assisted death than the Supreme Court provided in the Carter decision. Several committee members wrote a dissenting opinion, pointing out the committee report “falls far short of what is necessary to protect vulnerable Canadians and the Charter protected conscience rights of health professionals.” See a two-page summary of the EFC’s submission to the committee or the full submission, and the EFC's analysis (PDF, 4MB) of some of the committee’s deeply troubling recommendations.
The federal government introduced Bill C-14 on April 14. The legislation would create a Criminal Code exemption to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide for persons who are 18 years or older, with a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability, in an advanced state of irreversible decline and for whom death is reasonably foreseeable. Read the government’s summary of the legislation here. The government intends to have the legislation in place very quickly, by June 2016.
The EFC is completely opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide. As the federal government is going to allow the practices, we are urging them to put in place very strict limits and safeguards to protect conscience rights and the lives of vulnerable Canadians. In its news release on Bill C-14, the EFC urged Parliamentarians to examine the risks inherent in the practices, and called for strong conscience protection for medical practitioners and institutions to be provided in the legislation.
The EFC continues to produce and provide various resources on these issues.
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Why should Evangelicals care about euthanasia and assisted suicide?
As Christians we believe God calls us to live the life He has given us. We do not need to accept medical treatment, but it is not for us to choose the timing of our death. We are stewards of this life, but it belongs to God.
Part of our Christian calling is to care for our neighbour. The situation of vulnerable Canadians has to be our concern:
- People who may feel pressured to end their lives – because of the cost of their medical care, because their caregivers are tired or because their heirs are impatient
- People experiencing despair who may believe that their lives aren’t worth living
- People experiencing pain whose suffering is not being properly managed by quality palliative care
- People who live with disability and already struggle to receive proper medical care
- People who are afraid of losing capacity or afraid they may suffer.
Many people who are ill or at the end of life are concerned about being a burden and may be afraid of what lies ahead. The compassionate response is to support and encourage them, to provide high quality palliative care, not to end their lives.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide fundamentally devalue human life. They communicate that some lives are not worth living, that people with disabilities or illness are better off dead. If our society believes it is compassionate to offer death to someone with a disability or illness, how long before they extend that so-called compassionate response to those without the mental capacity to request it, and end people’s lives without their consent?
This will shift our medical system from a presumption for life to one in which a patient, amid scarce resources, may feel the need to justify not choosing death. Causing someone to justify their continued care and their very existence denies the dignity we claim to affirm in us all.
The situation is urgent, but you can still have a signficant impact by simply contacting your MP.
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What You Can Do
Related Issue: Abortion
Related Issue: Palliative Care
Related Issue: Reproductive/Genetic Technologies
Palliative Care: House of Commons motion calls for a national stategy (2016)
Palliative Care and End of Life Therapies: EFC position paper (2012)
Bill 52 Quebec: "Assisted Aid in Dying" bill passes (2014)
Carter v. Canada: Assisted suicide & euthanasia case (2013-2015)
Cuthbertson v. Rasouli: Life-sustaining care & religious freedom case (2013)
Find hospice and palliative care services near you. Search for services by name, location or medical conditions addressed.
In the Shadow of Death: A Christian Perspective on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Download this EFC publication from 2006 or buy a printed copy.