The Real “Inconvenient Truth” – We all die – Do Not Embrace Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Medically assisted death divides the nation

The nation stands divided. The Parliament of Canada in voting on the controversial assisted death legislation, now known as the infamous Bill C-14, demonstrated how strong the divide is in Canada over assisted dying and the role healthcare professionals are to play, and all the gamut of issues revolving around protecting the vulnerable.  Members of the House voted 186-137 on Tuesday to pass Bill C-14 on to the Senate in hopes that the legislation could meet its June 6 deadline.

From Parliament to the Senate bounces the new legislation

senate_expenses_20131105_29037813The bill itself is contentious from both side of the issue. Some see it as not going far enough to please the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada rendered in the Carter decision about the need to have access to medical assisted death services in Canada.  Now the legislation is before the Canadian Senate, and is facing third reading, and the likelihood of many amendments to the law, that would make it more in line to what the Supreme Court ordered last year.

pmtrudeauThe bill as it currently stands in the hands of the Senate, stipulates that there would be legalized provision for medically assisted suicide for mentally competent adults who have serious or incurable  illness and are “suffering intolerably” and whose death is “reasonably foreseeable” even though they may not necessarily have received a terminal diagnosis.

Pills_Credit_David_K_via_Flickr_CC_BY_SA_20_CNA_10_30_14Issues abound, and another issue is while the bill allows for conscience protections for physicians, it does not make the same provision of medical institutions that would be opposed to the procedure.

Viable and real protest from concerned Canadians

parliamentprotestThere are many organizations in Canada that are opposed to medical assisted death, and the showing on Parliament Hill when the bill passed demonstrates how large the divide actually is.  The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC similar to NAE) have signed a declaration against euthanasia and assisted suicide.  Represented on Parliament Hill that day were the Euthanasian Prevention Coalition, Living with Dignity, the Physicians Alliance Euthanasia, disability rights group Not Dead Yet, the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice, the Catholic Women’s League, as well as other people concerned for the protection of human life.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops stated the concerns of many Canadians when they said of the new Liberal legislation for physician assisted death, opining that it was:

“an affront to human dignity, an erosion of human solidarity and a danger to all vulnerable persons”

Are we ruled by the Supreme Court or Parliament?

Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott, right, talk to reporters outside the House of Commons on Tuesday May 31, 2016 in Ottawa. The federal government's controversial bill on assisted dying has sailed through the House of Commons, approved by a vote of 186-137. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand ORG XMIT: FXC101

Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott, right, talk to reporters outside the House of Commons on Tuesday May 31, 2016 in Ottawa. The federal government’s controversial bill on assisted dying has sailed through the House of Commons, approved by a vote of 186-137. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand ORG XMIT: FXC101

The contentious issue that has been a prevailing one since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms came on the scene in Canada, is that we constantly have had a record of new legislation past de facto by a liberal Supreme Court that is unanswerable to the Canadian people.  The Supreme Court has passed decisions that have defeated a standing law, and they have ordered a new law to replace the “unconstitutional” law.  In effect it make the Supreme Court the law of the land instead of the Parliament of Canada.  This is why this law as well as many other laws are being forced upon the Canadian people by continuously weak politicians who have no intestinal fortitude to put the Supreme Court on notice that they Supreme Court is to defend the law of the land, and force the changes to laws that have been fine as they stood. To use the Charter in a court challenge will often challenge the constitutionality of a law.  We need legislators that will pass laws that respect the Charter and will stand the test in a Supreme Court battle.

The irony of this is simply now this law, no matter which we get, is in the hands of the Senate

OTTAWA, ON - January 26, 2009 - Stephen Harper, Canada's Prime Minister and Her Excellency the Right Honourable MichaÎlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, arrive in the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, prior to the Speech of the Throne, January 26, 2009 Photo by Jean Levac, Ottawa Citizen, Canwest News Service (For OTTAWA CITIZEN story by ???, NATIONAL) Assignment number 93533

This Senate has had a lot to deal with over the last five years. The Senate Scandal, and the subsequent acquittal of the only case to go to trial (Mike Duphy), and all the angst over the expenses of the senators and the lack of accountability, and cries for the Senate to be rid of, and all of a sudden, the Senate has “relevance” and can correct the wrongs of the Liberal government and Bill C-14.

The memory of Canadians can be really short sometimes, and pragmatically, I am sure they are glad the Senate has not been sent to the trash heap of history.

euthanasia-prevention-coalition-rally-20160601The fate of Bill C-14 is in play. The role of the Senate is to “offer sober second thought” to proposed legislation, and to make amendment proposals that will be sent back to Parliament, where the bill in question can be amended and returned to the Senate for ratification and passage. This is how Canadian democracy works. I for one am glad to see the Senate playing its part in this crucial debate.

The sobering second thought chamber is going to send this bill back to Parliament

James Cowan, leader of the Liberals in the Senate stated the obvious:

“Everybody is seriously doing their job and we’re anxious to move and I think we would all agree that getting a law in place at the federal level is a good thing, but getting the right bill … is the overarching objective.”

supremecourtIn “doing their job” the Senate will consider amendments that will better reflect the findings of the Supreme Court when it struck down the law last year.  It is sad to see things come to this.  As one senator has already said, there has not been enough consultation with the Canadian public about this law and its impact on Canadians and I agree.

I have skin in the game, so to speak

carragh5In two ways “I have skin in the game.”  My eldest daughter Carragh, was diagnosed with A.L.L. leukemia at age 2, and suffered four relapses before she succumbed to cancer at age 9 and a half on 21 December 1993.  That day lives forever in my heart and in my mind.

carraghloriWe took Carragh off her treatment protocol after a third relapse.  When she was cleared as being in remission, we stopped all treatments, and stopped seeking a bone marrow transplant.  Carragh knew 43 children that had had bone marrow treatments and 40 of them had died horrible deaths. She did not want that.  This was the only option the medical establishment offered our family.  Carragh was always part of the treatment discussion. We did not hide anything from her.  She had a maturity that many speak of when they speak of children who have gone through great adversity.  They usually remark on how compassionate and how mature and reasoned they are as people. Carragh was all that and more.  She was the most resilient person I have ever known.

carragh8Carragh went on a naturopathic regimen during what was to be the last year of her life.  Like many “terminal” patients, those people who have been written off by the medical establishment as being beyond the hope of current medical science and technology, the medical treatments people like Carragh underwent, from experimental drugs to different protocols from around the world. These treatments so compromised her immune system, that the body could not fight the cancer and it in turn made her easily prone to infections. There was nothing more that could be done other than finding a bone marrow donor.  Carragh did not want that and neither did we.

carragh10For a year Carragh was on a vegan died, and on supplements including drinking Essiac, the herbal tea created by Renee Caisse from an aboriginal potion that had success in fighting cancer tumors.  Carragh was on vitamins and supplements and a pretty strict diet.  She even was getting silver leaf from India and the silver would expel toxins from her body that would show up in her urine and stools. Carragh seemed to be doing well, and about ten months after going off from the medical establishment protocol, the cancer came back for a fourth time.

carragh7When we got the results from the lab, and the doctor, we realized it was a matter of time before Carragh would pass from this life to the next.  We were told it could be three to six months before Carragh would die. That was hard to take as a parent.  We still had two other lovely young girls who Carragh adored.  Caitlin was six at that time and in grade 1, and Erinn wasn’t even five yet, and she was in kindergarten. We decided like all of our decisions, that we would do what was best for Carragh and for our family.

carragh2We informed her school. We took our kids out of school. We did not know for how many months it would be, but we would all be home together. We celebrated life, and we did things together, and we prepared ourselves.  We thought we had months, but it turned out to be weeks.  Carragh’s terminal diagnosis was on 19 November 1993.  Carragh passed away on 21 December 1993.

Carragh’s decline was rapid

carragh4Carragh’s decline was pretty fast considering all of her previous recoveries and remissions.  We worked with our family physician, who arranged for a pain pump and morphine.  Carragh was so strong emotionally and spiritually through this difficult transition from this life to life hereafter. Carragh was alert in mind.  Her body began to shut down, which was expected. She was able to converse with us and spend time with us. We read to her and prayed with her.  Her sisters played around her bedside, which had been moved into our living room.  We had a bed there for her. Friends came by to visit and encourage us.

Our church and denominational family were very supportive, one family drove from Pennsylvania to bring us Christmas gifts and to share with us and give us support. My father in law, Bob Rolston, and his wife Joyce, were so supportive and came to help us. They too were going through the agony that we all were going through.

We were determined to manage Carragh’s pain

Pain Management - Florida Medical Clinic

Our desire during this whole dying process was to manage Carragh’s pain.  It wasn’t until Carragh’s last evening, when Lori-Anne called the medical support staff, and asked about the management of Carragh’s pain. Her pain was increasing, and Carragh’s whole body and disposition revealed that it was becoming worse by the hour.  Lori-Anne had given her morphine, and the caution from the medical staff was that we were giving her too much.  This was the fear at the time from the medical establishment concerning the decline and death of terminally ill people.

img-painLori-Anne arranged for the medical team to come in the morning and set up the pain pump for Carragh.  It was a bit later that morning  that we actually administered the pain pump.  Carragh was in that stage of in and out of consciousness when the nearness of death begins to manifest.  We wanted to make sure she was comfortable and pain free.  We had been coached by our physician and nurse.  My wife being a nurse knew what to do.  We were prepared for all this, but it was still difficult to go through.  Carragh breathed her last barely two hours after receiving the morphine through the pain pump.  Our goal was to let nature take its course, and let the body go, and let the spirit and soul separate from the body and return to God, and to make that transition as pain free as possible.  We did that.

So I understand how terminally ill, near death people care about and are concerned about getting the medical assistance they believe they need

jesuswalkedI understand the pain, the grieving, the sense of helplessness when your loved one is in pain and is in the dying stage of life. There is a sense of loss that every human being feels, when life appears to be slipping away.  It is agony beyond words to describe the sense of loss, and the sense of helplessness. I understand how people have been battling for years, for an easier approach to dealing with death and the dying  process.

jesustalithakumiThe Supreme Court sought to remedy this situation, and the Liberal government under PM Justin Trudeau has attempted to make the law of the land comply to the Supreme Court decision.  It appears that the Liberals thing the Supreme Court over reached in its judgment.  This creates the tension we now feel in our nation as the consciousness of the nation is awakened to being merciful to the those who are suffering a terminal illness and want to have assistance at the time of death, and those who want to have assistance to die with medical assistance.

handlingjourneyWhat we are now seeing is the clash between preserving life to the point when natural death takes place under medical supervision and assistance in pain management until the body can no longer live on its own, and the slippery slope of active euthanasia.  This is where the public input and the participation of ethics experts, the influence of faith communities, and medical professionals, as well as the general public MUST be heard.

lifechangeIt is too much of a slippery slope to not have a correct law in place. Laws are created to protect life, not to let life be taken at the whim of a person who doesn’t want to live anymore, or the discretion of a family for a family member who is not in a conscious state, or a decision made by the physicians and institutions charged with the care of patients. The weakest, the most vulnerable, from the very young to the very old, the very sick and terminal, to those who just don’t have a desire to live, all of these people MUST be protected by the laws of this land.

My own skin in the game

malebreastcancerI have come face to face with death.  When I heard the diagnosis of cancer on the 6th of October 2015, I thought of my own dying and eventual death to a destructive disease.  I relived the diagnosis of my own daughter Carragh, when she was diagnosed as having cancer in December of 1986.  I saw the same image, a black coffin.  I did a double take. I looked at my wife and we both had that sick expression of shock.  The surgeon realized it and thought we already knew.  He apologized and quickly said that this was very treatable and that he would be doing the surgery to remove the tumor growing out of my right chest.

sam_aftersurgeryAs those of you who follow my blog know, I had surgery on the 18th of November 2015. I was in recovery from the surgery for two months.  I was off work on short term disability.  I was at home resting and recovering, waiting for the drainage from the radical mastectomy to stop, so that I could have the incision scar heal enough so that I could begin radiation treatments.

I am thankful that I had a brilliant local surgeon who referred me to his friends at one of the top five premier cancer treatment centres in the world, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, part of the UHN, the University Health Network that treats patients from across the nation.  These hospitals are acute-care teaching organizations with approximately 1000 beds, the Network is comprised of three hospitals located in downtown Toronto, Princess Margaret, Toronto Western, Toronto General and Toronto Rehab, and the Mitchener Institute.

IMG_20160120_133711050I met a leading oncologist who specializes with breast cancer sarcomas and carcinomas. It was determined that my best option was radiation therapy, as the cancer I was dealing with, had no name for it, and it was a hybrid cancer, a combination of breast cancer characteristics as well as characteristics of sarcoma and carcinoma.  The treatment protocols between breast cancer and carcinoma/sarcoma are different, the first recommend chemotherapy and radiation, and the last recommend radiation therapy.  I was given the option to add chemotherapy to my regimen but I declined the offer.  I still have painful memories of what chemotherapy did to my beloved Carragh thirty years ago, and most of those chemo drugs are the same with the same devastating effects on the immune system, and the risks of causing other cancers to appear down the road in the life of the patient.  I was just not going there.

IMG_20160229_153230I also had to deal with a medical oncologist from our local cancer centre, the Grande River Regional Cancer Centre.  It was NOT a pleasant experience.  This physician was in my face, literally.  She was less than 18 inches from my face insisting that I start chemo right away instead of the radiation.  She had been trained at Princess Margaret in Toronto, and my oncologist from Toronto had been one of her mentors.  He knew her quite well.  My wife was a good advocate for me and spoke up for me and addressed some issues I did not think about during our consult at Grande River.  Needless to say this visit at Grand River Regional Cancer Centre was the worst “patient experience” I have ever had, and I did not even have any treatments!!!

IMG_20160120_164644110I declined their offer of chemo-therapy and determined that I would go with Princess Margaret and my medical team there. I went ahead with the six weeks, 30 radiation treatments. I came home on the weekends.  The radiation caused “burns” like a bad sunburn, and tiredness, and lethargy. The effects compounded and increased over time, as each treatments effects would add to the already side effects I was suffering and just increased over time. It reached its worst about two weeks after the last treatment on 3rd March 2016.

IMG_20160120_164722404It took me six weeks to recover.  I again rested at home.  I did not do very much. I was too tired.  About a month in I started to feel better.  At five weeks in, I went back to visit my employer, and spent an hour with my manager and supervisor. I realized I was more than ready to come back to the office.  I came back to work on 12th of April 2016.  My employer has been fantastic in accommodating doctor’s and naturopath appointments. It has been a good and steady recovery.

IMG_20160527_150440344I had my first follow up appointment with Princess Margaret on 25th of May 2016.  They want to see me again in six months.  I am continuing my vitamin C intravenous weekly transfusions at the naturopath, and continuing taking my eighteen cancer fighting supplements and I watch what I eat. Life is pretty good. I am enjoying my life. I am enjoying my wife and my family. I have no words to describe the incredible woman I have as my wife. Lori-Anne is such a gift from God to me.  She is an amazing care-giver, and I love and cherish her.  My love for her grows and grows.  I am indeed a blessed man.  My adult children have been incredible. They are amazing young people. I am thankful to have them in my life.  I am a content man knowing how beautiful and responsible and bright my children are.  They are equipped to handle all that life throws at them.  They are strong of heart and character.  I have always only had a couple of concerns as a parent.  Do my children know how to care for themselves, and will they find someone to love them and share life with them, the same way I found Lori-Anne to share my life journey with me.  I can answer a resounding “yes” to that question.  My girls have wonderful men in their lives.  Erinn has Alex.  Caitlin has Stephen.  All four of these beautiful people have enriched and continue to bless my life.  I am indeed very blessed.

IMG_20160407_093030142I am very much aware of my own mortality.  I am more than aware that I am now middle aged, and having had a bought with cancer, and being currently in remission, I am challenged more than some, by the fact that I am more susceptible to a recurrence of cancer, especially in light of having had radiation treatments (a recurrence of cancer can occur within the first ten years of treatment). I am aware of the risks. All I can do is make lifestyle and dietary changes and live my life as stress free as possible. This is what I am doing and will continue to do.

The real “inconvenient truth” is that we are all going to die

everyonediesAl Gore made the whole world aware over a decade ago about the inconvenient truth of climate change.  I believe the REAL “inconvenient truth” concerning the human condition is that we are all going to die.  I will say it again.  We are ALL going to die.  The thing about human life, is that NO ONE gets out alive. No one. Not you. Not me. Not any of our children or their children. None of us get out alive. We are destined to live once, and then die once. The Bible states exactly that.

Eugene Peterson says in his Message Translation:

hebrews-9-27-appointed-to-die-and-face-judgment27-28 Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation. [The Message, Hebrews 9]

The NIV [New International Version] states it this way:

hebrews-9-2727 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. [NIV, Hebrews 9]

10Outof10DieHebrews927The Bible says it, and our daily life demonstrates it every day.  People we know, people we don’t know, they all die every day from a variety ills, accidents, mishaps, or simply die from old age. Everyone dies. Next to the sports page, the obituaries are the most viewed pages.  As you get older, you realize you look at the obituaries more than you ever did before. As you get older you attend more funerals than you do weddings or baptisms.  It is a fact of life and a fact of growing older.

c569bcb58453edd1b57b8cbb4c3dc506This is society’s “inconvenient truth.” Death keeps creeping up on all of us.  Some of us are in denial of it, but that doesn’t change the facts. We are all going to die. For a lot of people, it is not so much the recognition that they are going to die, but the issue of how they die, by what the circumstances.

Death with dignity means you respect life for as long as life remains

IMG_20160126_092045The irony is that we begin the dying process when we grasp our first breath out of the womb of our mother.  We start to grow and by growing and maturing we are in the dying process as we live the number days that we are predetermined to live. I take comfort that God knows the number of my days as much as he knows the number of the hairs on my head.  As I age I realize that I am really beginning to lose my hair! I may exclaim “Yikes! I am losing my hair!” But how aware am I of the fleeting life that I live? How aware am I that I only have so many days to live this wonderful life, this gift of life I have been given by God and through my mother and father? I am amazed at this complexity of life we live, and how dynamic and powerful human life and existence is and how precious and beautiful it all is.

IMG_20160123_224247743I understand the need for the new law that is currently with the Senate.  But I am afraid that if there is a liberal (pun intended) interpretation and application to the Supreme Court decision that created the current impasse, then we are creating a very slippery slope to active euthanasia.

My questions remain:

  1. How do you make it easier for people to die with dignity who in a terminal care situation?
  2. Why do you have to have physicians and health care professionals involved in the “death services” industry?
  3. Why not create a whole new institutional mechanism that is NOT administered by health care providers and physicians, but rather administered by people who only do this kind of thing? Why tarnish the health care field and profession by adding the moral and ethical quandary of having to assist a person in taking their own life?
  4. How are you going to practically protect the most vulnerable, from the aged, to the mentally challenged, and those suffering from mental illness?
  5. How are you going to protect older teens?
  6. What accountability mechanisms are you going to put in place and regulate and supervise for this new “death technology service”?
  7. How are we going to put mechanisms that do not encourage suicide but rather encourage living to a natural death, and better ways to deal with finding meaning in life and suffering?

Where I stand. We are becoming no better than the Nazis.

assist2liveThis new law undermines “dignity of life from birth to death” by making it easier for any person to kill themselves.  I am vehemently opposed to this. I understand the need to make it easier for people who are in a terminally ill situation to need medical assistance, but I believe that it should be through pain management than by active euthanasia. I am totally irrevocably opposed to active euthanasia.  If we go down this slippery path we are no better than the Nazis and what they did in Nazi Germany. We prosecuted Nazis for their mercy killing euthanasia program that set up the whole Holocaust apparatus. What kind of thing are we doing by embracing an easier way for people to procure death at the hands of professional medical killers?

16943914_2If this is the direction this government is going, it is taking things down the path into the abyss and valley of death, where we will be fulfilling the very desire and ideology of the Nazi theorists.  We are but a breath away from Nazi Eugenics. We will be getting rid of undesirables clinically and cleanly by disguising everything and everyone in white gowns, white masks, and all this medical equipment, just to end their lives. How pathetic and sick is this? Our consciences are seared and our hearts are stone cold.

My own journey and if I have to face a painful death

tab-assisstedsuicide-stock003.jpg.size.custom.crop.1086x725I can only say that the best death possible would be to die in my own bed and in my sleep. That would be the ideal.  Many people do not get to experience this ideal situation. Carragh died at home in a hospital bed in our living room.

samloriShould the day come that I have to face dying from a terminal disease, such as cancer recurring in my body, I will attempt to face it as courageously as my nine year old Carragh faced her own death.  She believed to the very last that Jesus Christ could touch her body and raise her up like the many times she was able to be put in remission and live a time longer with the rest of us.  I believe God can raise anyone up from death, sickness or terminal disease.

liveordieI also believe that God gives us the grace we need to face the end of life on this planet. Death is but a door to the other side.  Death has been defeated through the death of Christ on the cross and through His resurrection from the dead.  Death for the Christian is nothing to be feared.

myfleshmyheartThis past year I have had to face death and my own mortality.  I am ready to face death, though I pray it is not for some time yet. I have much more to live and experience. But the timing of my death is in God’s hands, and I want it left that way.  I do not want to see euthanasia or assisted suicide as the new reality in Canada. I want to see checks and balances and a spiritually vital and real alternative to the status quo that doesn’t base ending life on emotional feelings or ending pain alone.  It must be based on the natural process of death, and upon the dignity of life, every stage of life, from birth until you breathe you last breath.

familyphotoShould I come to that place in the future where I need pain management to manage the pain of this last stage of my earthly existence, then I pray that my loved ones and my medical care team will provide me that pain management, and that I will be alert when I pass from this life to life eternal with Jesus Christ.  I want to have my loved ones with me as I leave their midst. I want to express my love to them and bid them a “see you later on the other side” greeting, and kiss them.  I want to be able to do this, knowing that my dying process my own journey, and it is a journey everyone must face, and face it with courage and dignity.  I know my wife and children would take care of me as Lori-Anne and I took care of Carragh.  We would want it to be as pain free as possible and to love each other each step of the journey.

assisted-dyingDon’t just put a needle in my arm, and start the pump and put me to sleep like some person on Death Row in a penitentiary in Texas.  Dying with dignity while suffering from a disease is so much more than a white lab coat, syringes, intravenous, pain pump, and quiet, cold, clinically induced death at the hands of a professional death technician.


I echo and “amen” the words of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and their declaration against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada – Declaration Against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

euthanasiaAssisted suicide and euthanasia raise profound social, moral, legal, theological and philosophical questions — questions that go to the very core of our understanding of who we are, the meaning of life, and the duty of care we owe to each other. The recent Supreme Court of Canada decision has brought this issue to the forefront of public discussion and compels each of us as Canadians to reflect upon our personal and societal response to those who need our compassion and care.

humandignityWe, the undersigned, each from the basis of our sacred teachings and enduring traditions, affirm the sanctity of all human life, and the equal and inviolable dignity of every human being. This is an affirmation shared by societies and cultures around the world and throughout history. Human dignity is not exclusively a religious belief, although for us it has a significant religious meaning. Furthermore, we affirm that reverence for human life is the basis and reason for our compassion, responsibility and commitment in caring for all humans, our brothers and sisters, when they are suffering and in pain.

Respect_Life_15_webThe sanctity of human life is a foundational principle of Canadian society. It has both individual and communal import: it undergirds the recognition of the equal dignity of each individual regardless of their abilities or disabilities and shapes and guides our common life together, including our legal, health care and social welfare systems. It engenders the collective promotion of life and the protection of the vulnerable.

the-real-question-today-is-not-when-human-life-begins-but-what-is-the-value-of-human-life-quote-1While Canadian society continues to affirm the importance of human dignity, there is a worrisome tendency to define this subjectively and emotionally. For us, human dignity is most properly understood as the value of a person’s life before her or his Creator and within a social network of familial and societal relationships. We are convinced the only ways to help people live and die with dignity are: to ensure they are supported by love and care; to provide holistic care which includes pain control as well as psychological, spiritual and emotional support; and, to improve and increase resources in support of palliative and home care.

sacredquoteOn the basis of our respective traditions and beliefs, we insist that any action intended to end human life is morally and ethically wrong. Together, we are determined to work to alleviate human suffering in every form but never by intentionally eliminating those who suffer.

votenoThe withholding or withdrawal of burdensome treatment must be distinguished from euthanasia and assisted suicide. The intention in such cases is not to cause death but to let it occur naturally. We understand that under certain circumstances it is morally and legally acceptable for someone to refuse or stop treatment. The refusal of medical treatment, including extraordinary measures, is very different from euthanasia or assisted suicide. Euthanasia is the deliberate killing of someone, with or without that person’s consent, ostensibly in order to eliminate suffering. Assisted suicide occurs when one person aids, counsels or encourages another person to commit suicide. There is a fundamental difference between killing a person and letting her or him die of natural causes.

quote-if-life-is-not-a-continuum-from-conception-to-natural-death-then-all-of-us-are-potential-cal-thomas-73-37-53Euthanasia and assisted suicide treat the lives of disadvantaged, ill, disabled, or dying persons as less valuable than the lives of others. Such a message does not respect the equal dignity of our vulnerable brothers and sisters.


quote-the-ultimate-end-of-all-revolutionary-social-change-is-to-establish-the-sanctity-of-human-life-the-emma-goldman-72856Health care systems must maintain a life affirming ethos. Medical professionals are trained to restore and enhance life. They are not trained or expected to administer death. Any change in this regard would fundamentally distort the doctor/patient relationship. Similarly, all members of society are called upon to do their utmost to protect their neighbours when their lives or safety are threatened. This basic care and concern, so fundamental to society, is evident in the continuing efforts to provide better, readily available palliative and home care.

Health Canada defines palliative care as “an approach to care for people who are living with a life-threatening illness, no matter how old they are. The focus of care is on achieving comfort and ensuring respect for the person nearing death, and maximizing quality of life for the patient, family, and loved ones, and is a societal affirmation of caring for the most vulnerable amongst us. Palliative care addresses different aspects of end-of-life care by: managing pain and other symptoms; providing social, psychological, cultural, emotional, spiritual and practical support; supporting caregivers; providing support for bereavement.” Assisted suicide and euthanasia are contrary to the philosophy and practice of palliative care.

quote-faced-with-the-sacredness-of-life-and-of-the-human-person-and-before-the-marvels-of-pope-john-paul-ii-60-77-12In light of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, we urge federal, provincial and territorial legislators to enact and uphold laws that enhance human solidarity by promoting the rights to life and security for all people; to make good-quality home care and palliative care accessible in all jurisdictions; and to implement regulations and policies that ensure respect for the freedom of conscience of all health-care workers and administrators who will not and cannot accept suicide or euthanasia as a medical solution to pain and suffering.

sacredlifeHumanity’s moral strength is based on solidarity, communion and communication – particularly with those who are suffering. It is personal attention and palliative care and not assisted suicide or euthanasia that best uphold the worth of the human person. It is when we are willing to care for one another under the most dire of circumstances and at the cost of great inconvenience that human dignity and society’s fundamental goodness are best expressed and preserved.

[ Declaration quoted in full – sign the declaration here.]

May God guide the leaders of our nation, and may He have mercies on our souls for what we are doing with the sacredness of human life.


~ Samuel M. Buick





About Sam Buick

A lover and disciple of Jesus Christ. Married to my best friend, Lori-Anne. Father to 3 incredible daughters, Carragh, Caitlin and Erinn, and sons-in-law Alex Barry, and Stephen Davis. An avid reader, a Droid user, a Mac addict, a lover of footy ball and football (there is a difference), and hockey. Once a soldier. Once a youth worker. Once an ordained minister. Once a claims adjuster. I don’t mind labels, labels define what type of Christian I am: I am a creationist I am a monergist I am a Trinitarian I am an imputationalist I am a Calvinist I am a cessationist ~ Samuel M. Buick
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