• David Schrader, PhD., National Pastor

Canada's Experiment With Death



The picture above is not NASA’s latest spacecraft design. It’s the Sarco Suicide Pod – an invention by Australian suicide proselytizer Dr. Philip Nitschke. The elegant design is intended to suggest a sense of travelling to a “new destination”.[1] Just where that destination might be, is not made clear by the inventor.


The Sarco Suicide Pod was recently approved for use in Switzerland, a country that already accommodates “suicide tourism.” It has clinics that people from around the world can pay to attend – just so they can be put to death.


According to Yahoo News, the Sarco Suicide Pod is a portable coffin-like capsule with windows and all the comforts. It can be transported to a tranquil place for a person’s final moments of life. Currently, in Switzerland, the method used for euthanasia is to provide the person with a series of liquids, that if ingested, will end the person's life. By contrast, the Sarco Suicide Pod – which can be placed anywhere – is flooded with nitrogen, reducing oxygen levels rapidly. The process would make the person inside lose consciousness and die in approximately 10 minutes. [2]


Ironically, some would call the Sarco Suicide Pod a progressive invention for those wanting to end their lives. But instead, it glamorizes death without regard to any spiritual and eternal consequences.


Currently, several countries, such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, already allow patients who are suicidal to receive death by either lethal injection (euthanasia) or a self-administered prescription for lethal medication (assisted suicide). A terminal condition is not a necessary criterion for euthanasia.


So, euthanasia – once promoted as an end-of-life option for the terminally ill – is now well down the slippery slope to accommodating all kinds of patient circumstances and requests. Now between 100 and 200 patients with psychiatric illness are euthanized upon request annually between Belgium and the Netherlands.


So, what about Canada? The Canadian government is on its way to outpacing the Netherlands and Belgium combined. It has glamorized euthanasia under the euphemism – Medical Assistance in Dying (or M.A.i.D). And sadly, many doctors and hospitals now seem eager to offer their professional “services”.


Like Belgium and the Netherlands, Canada’s Bill C-7 has also removed the requirement that a person’s natural death be reasonably foreseeable to qualify for assisted death. Therefore, people who are not terminally ill, can now die by euthanasia. In other words, we are no longer sliding down a slippery slope – we’ve slid right into an moral abyss.


For example, Canada just released its 2021 euthanasia report and it reveals some abysmal statistics. There were more than 10,000 deaths representing 3.3% of all deaths in Canada. But even more troubling was that 1,740 people chose to die by euthanasia for loneliness and isolation!


The report indicates that the number of assisted deaths increased by 32.4% since its legalization in December 2016, for a grand total of 31,664 deaths.


Instead of our government tightening restrictions and access to euthanasia, the moral abyss is getting deeper and darker by the moment. Recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau established a Special Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate the expansion of M.A.I.D. to include euthanasia for “mature minors,” (under 18) with “mental illnesses”.


And on October 7, 2022, Dr. Louis Roy, from the Quebec College of Physicians, appeared before this Special Joint Committee of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) and said that his organization believes MAID can be appropriate for infants up to age one who are born with “severe malformations” and “grave and severe syndromes” for which their “prospective of survival is null, so to speak.”[3]


Krista Carr, Inclusion Canada’s executive vice president, said, “Canada cannot begin killing babies when doctors predict there is no hope for them. Predictions are far too often based on discriminatory assumptions about life with a disability." [4] Inclusion Canada said it is also concerned about the “fundamental lack of consent involved in euthanizing an infant.” “An infant cannot consent to their own death. This isn’t MAID, it’s murder. And providing MAID to a person who cannot consent is a standard that is wildly dangerous for all persons with intellectual disabilities in Canada,” said Carr.[5] Frankly, Carr is right, we need to call Dr. Louis Roy’s suggestion for what it is – infanticide.


It took the, The Spectator, in the UK to point out Canada’s draconian use of euthanasia:


Since last year, Canadian law, in all its majesty, has allowed both the rich as well as the poor to kill themselves if they are too poor to continue living with dignity. In fact, the ever-generous Canadian state will even pay for their deaths. What it will not do is spend money to allow them to live instead of killing themselves [6] . . .


Many in the healthcare sector came to the same conclusion. Even before Bill C-7 was enacted, reports of abuse were rife. A man with a neurodegenerative disease testified to Canada’s Parliament that nurses and a medical ethicist at a hospital tried to coerce him into killing himself by threatening to bankrupt him with extra costs or by kicking him out of the hospital, and by withholding water from him for 20 days . . .


Despite the Canadian government’s insistence that assisted suicide is all about individual autonomy, it has also kept an eye on its fiscal advantages. Even before Bill C-7 entered into force, the country’s Parliamentary Budget Officer published a report about the cost savings it would create, whereas the old MAID regime saved $86.9 million per year – a ‘net cost reduction’, in the sterile words of the report – Bill C-7 would create additional net savings of $62 million per year. Healthcare, particularly for those suffering from chronic conditions, is expensive; but assisted suicide only costs the taxpayer $2,327 per ‘case’. And yet Canada’s lavishly government subsidized media, with some honorable exceptions, has expressed remarkably little curiosity about the open social murder of its citizens in one of the world’s wealthiest countries.[7]


Has the Canadian government reduced a person’s life to a dollar and cents calculation? It certainly appears so. Nancy Pearcy in Love Thy Body expressed it like this, “it doesn’t take a genius to see that the easiest way to reduce healthcare costs is physical physician assisted suicide. When human life is no longer seen to have inherent value, it will be subject to a purely utilitarian calculation of costs and benefits.”[8]


As Christians we believe that human beings, who are created in the image of God, have inherent dignity and worth. Life is sacred and should be cherished. There is no such thing as a “useless” life because our worth is not determined by what we can do or the pleasure we experience, but rather by who we are in relation to God and to each other.


But when God and his Word are removed from all consideration, immorality is unleashed, and consciences are ignored. For example, during the Second World War, Nazi doctors became torturers and assassins in the name of science. How can we explain their betrayal? What made them forget their Hippocratic Oath? What gagged their conscience? What happened to their humanity?


One day, Hitler and his health minister made it known to leaders in the medical field that, according to a secret decision made at the highest level, it was necessary to get rid of "useless mouths" — the insane, the terminally ill, children, and elderly people. Few in the German medical profession believed it worthy or good to refuse. Thus, instead of doing their job, instead of bringing assistance and comfort to the sick people who needed them most, instead of helping the mutilated and the handicapped to live, eat, and hope one more day, one more hour, doctors became their executioners.[9]


In October 1939, several weeks after the beginning of hostilities, Hitler gave the first order concerning the Gnadentod, "charitable death or mercy killing." On the 15th of that month, gas was used for the first time. In less than two years, 70,000 “sick” people disappeared into the gas chambers. The Gnadentod program was going so well that the head of the Wehrmacht Hospital's psychiatric ward, Professor Wurth, worried, "With all the mentally ill being eliminated, who will want to pursue studies in the growing field of psychiatry?”[10]


The program was interrupted only when the bishop of Münster, Clemens August Graf von Galen, had the courage to denounce it from his cathedral's pulpit; protest, in other words, came not from the medical profession, but from the church. Finally, public opinion was moved.[11]


While the Canadian government may not be overtly promoting the systematic killing of the mentally ill or the disabled like the Nazi’s, it’s easy see, however, how their passive accommodation of euthanasia is opening the door to similar outcomes in the deaths of its citizens.


After World War II, Canada, and the civilized world, rightly decried the Nazi’s systemic and barbarous treatment of the mentally ill and “useless mouths”. But now, having not learned from history, our government and medical profession seem as complicit as the Nazi’s in their inhumane policies.


Jean Vanier in Becoming Human reminds us that, “All humans are sacred, whatever their culture, race, religion, whatever their capacities or incapacities, and whatever their weaknesses or strengths may be.”[12] Margaret Somerville, in The Ethical Canary, also points out, “That which fails to show respect for life, in particular human life, or puts at serious risk or harms the human spirit is inherently wrong.”[13]


Many doctors wrestle with euthanasia; and for good reason. In theory, the Hippocratic oath dictates the obligations of the physician to prescribe only beneficial treatments, according to their abilities and judgment; to refrain from causing harm or hurt; and to live an exemplary personal and professional life. It’s obvious to see then why euthanasia creates a terrible ethical dilemma for many doctors, and especially Christian doctors.


Just recently on October 5, 2022, our Canadian Parliament voted on MP Kelly Block’s bill – the Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act (Bill C-230). It was defeated in the House of Commons by a vote of 208-115, with every Conservative MP in attendance voting for it, but every MP from every other party voting against it. This was major setback in the quest for protecting the freedom of conscience of every healthcare worker.


The Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act would’ve made it illegal to force a medical practitioner to participate in euthanasia against their will, either through direct participation or through forcing them to do an “effective referral” (many provinces currently force doctors and nurses to refer patients who want euthanasia to doctors who are willing to kill them). The Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act would’ve also prevented medical professionals from losing their job or being denied employment due to their opposition to euthanasia.


Sadly, many in our government and many in the healthcare sector seem determined to promote euthanasia. So much so, that Dr. John Scott, a palliative care consultant and associate professor in palliative medicine at the University of Ottawa, said:


I encounter a lot of patients who are not competent to make the decision for M.A.I.D., but who are receiving euthanasia”, that’s upsetting. It doesn’t matter if the physician in charge of a patient’s care thinks the patient is incompetent. If the two assessors assigned by the institution – typically physicians “keenly supportive of a M.A.I.D. have declared the patient competent – the patient will be put to death.[14]


Dr. James Boudreau is a fifth-year resident in internal medicine in London Ontario. He has also seen M.A.I.D. providers, with a great deal of autonomy and little oversight, accelerate the process in patients for whom he thought there was no good cause. “There’s a lot of pressure on physicians to keep patients moving through the system due to the lack of resources”, he explains, and he worries M.A.I.D. could become something of an escape valve to ease that pressure.[15]


Our legal system and our institutions are characterized by a life-affirming ethos and morality. Unfortunately, our government and hospitals are either unaware of this or have chosen to disregard it entirely. For instance, The Law Reform Commission has stated:

In truth the criminal law is a moral system. It may be crude; it may have faults. It may be rough and ready, but basically it is a system of applied morality and justice. It serves to underline those values necessary and important to society. When acts occur that seriously transgress essential values, like the sanctity of life, society must speak out and reaffirm those values. This is the true role of criminal law.[16]


Unfortunately, few in society are speaking out, including our own government. This should not surprise us when our society has been educated to believe that we are mere animals evolved from some cosmic soup.


Churches and Christians must be advocates for the sanctity of life. We need to support life from the womb to its natural end. We need to help people have a healthy understanding of God as the author of life and as the One who is sovereign over when their lives should come to an end.


Even though access to M.A.I.D. is a constitutionally protected civil and human right and a publicly funded health care right under the Canada Health Act, it is worth noting that access to palliative care is not. This is totally unacceptable in a country like Canada that purports to be a civilized nation. We need to be strong advocates of palliative and hospice care as humane alternatives to euthanasia.


Dr. Balfour Mount, a pioneer of the hospice movement, describes the scope and benefits of hospice care:


Several features characterize hospice care as being distinct from traditional health care programs. There is a concern for the family and other loved ones as well as the patient. The fears and doubts of all involved, the strain on relationships and financial resources, the need for spiritual care, are all considered in addition to the more traditional issues relating to the disease itself. There is also a relaxation of the institutional regulations concerning visitors, food, pets, and other details of daily life. When the length of remaining life is recognized as lying outside the influence of further treatment, the focus is not on curing or prolonging life but on its quality each day; not on death, but on life and on living in the moment![17]


It's easy to see that hospice care can allow someone to die with dignity and to allow their family members to be a part of that process.


As we move forward, churches need to take a very proactive role towards helping those with critical life issues including mental and physical. Loneliness, isolation, depression, and a loss of participation in meaningful activities should never be a reason for ending one’s life.


Life is a gift from God, over which we have stewardship but not absolute control. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:24-25).


Life did not originate from man but was given by God Himself. God’s blessing is upon human life. Hence, the highest purpose of life is to bring glory to God in life and death. “The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.” (I Samuel 2:6)


It’s time for our nation to come out of the moral abyss and into the light of God’s marvellous love. It’s time our government to honor God as the Author and Creator of life.


 

[1] Sarco, https://www.exitinternational.net/sarco/. [2]Barbie Latza Nadeau, “Switzerland Approves Assisted ‘Suicide Capsule” https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/switzerland-approves-assisted-suicide-capsule-140255771.html, Dec.6, 2021. [3] Catherine Lévesque, Quebec College of Physicians slammed for suggesting MAID for severely ill newborns, The National Post, https://nationalpost.com/news/quebec-college-of-physicians-slammed-for-suggesting-maid-for-severely-ill-newborns, October 11. 2022. [4] Ibid. [5] Ibid. [6] Yuan Yi Zhu, Why is Canada Euthanising the Poor?, The Spectator, https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/why-is-canada-euthanising-the-poor-, April 30, 2022. [7] Ibid. [8] Nancy Pearcy, Love They Body, Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2018. [9] Erwin W. Lutzer, Hittler’s Cross, How the Cross Was Used to Promote the Nazi Agenda, (Chicago, Moody Publishers, 2015). [10] Ibid. [11] Ibid. [12] Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, p. 14. [13] Margaret Somerville, The Ethical Canary, p. xiv. [14] Patricia Paddy, How Euthanasia is Transforming Canadian End-of-LIfe-Care, Faith Today, https://www.faithtoday.ca/Magazines/2022-Jul-Aug/How-MAiD-is-transforming-Canadian-end-of-life-care, July 6, 2022. [15] Ibid. [16] Law Reform Commission of Canada, Report No. 3 “Our Criminal Law: (1976), p. 16.) [17] Source: Balfour M. Mount, M.D., “Palliative Care of the Dying, Care for the Dying and Bereaved”, ed. Ian Gentles (Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1982), pp. 7,18

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