Canada is loosening prohibitions on assisted suicide, even for children, driving concern that the rapidly secularizing nation no longer cares about the innate value of human beings.
Although medical assistance in dying has been available in Canada for the past six years, the nation’s parliament considered amendments to the criminal code last year that would expand the availability of the practice. Among other changes, a citizen possessing only a “mental illness” can now request euthanasia beginning next spring, whereas the practice was originally limited to people with serious physical illnesses or disabilities. “You do not need to have a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible for medical assistance in dying,” according to a webpage published by the government of Canada.
Although the new legislation does not explicitly allow minors to pursue assisted suicide, the government of Canada says that “children’s decision-making about health care issues occurs within a complicated legal framework.” The doctrine of the “mature minor,” for example, “allows children who are sufficiently mature to make their own treatment decisions.” Statutes relating to parental consent and mature minor status vary between provinces.
The popularity and prevalence of euthanasia are quickly rising. Casualties from medical assistance in dying now account for 3.3% of the overall death toll in Canada, including a 4.7% rate in Quebec and a 4.8% rate in British Columbia, according to data published by the nation’s government last year. Contrary to public messaging by organizations promoting assisted suicide, only 57.6% of individuals requesting the procedure cited unbearable pain, while 86.3% reported a reduced ability to engage in meaningful activities.
Dr. Ted Fenske, a clinical professor at the University of Alberta and a fellow at the Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity, told The Daily Wire that medical assistance in dying is a “cruel and pragmatic” mechanism for “healthcare cost reduction” despite advocates hiding the brutality of the practice behind a string of euphemisms. “As Christian healthcare professionals, we are called to come alongside patients in their suffering with concern and comfort,” he remarked. “We are not to eliminate the suffering by eliminating the sufferer.”
Fenske cited a flurry of biblical data points to show the immorality of euthanasia: first and foremost, men and women are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), while God alone has the right to cut short human life (Jeremiah 10:23). Murder is explicitly prohibited (Exodus 20:13) and no provision exists for killing at a person’s own request.
However, Fenske recognized that a radical societal esteem for individual autonomy is the driving factor behind the widespread acceptance of medical assistance in dying, even for those who do not have physical ailments, meaning that the “value of human life has become relativized” and subjected to postmodern reason.
“Just as the value of a preborn baby has come to rest solely on the attitude of the expecting mother, and the gender of an individual or their subjective sexual attractions, expressions, and desire for identity, so too, medical assistance in dying has reduced the value of human life and its continuance to a subjective state of mind,” he said. “By contrast to the Hippocratic oath of yesteryear, which emphasized the importance of ‘first doing no harm,’ contemporary medicine holds autonomy as the highest virtue, and in the spirit of so-called enlightenment, promotes patient-directed interventions rather than patient-centered care, even unto death.”
The conclusions of the Enlightenment and the theories of Darwinism hold evident sway over assisted suicide in Canada. “Rather than caring for the vulnerable of society — the frail elderly, the physically disabled, the mentally ill, and the homeless — and ensuring their protection, medical assistance in dying targets these very vulnerable groups, and promotes survival of the fittest amongst us, and death to the weak and diseased,” Fenske added. “Euthanasia has not only damaged the doctor-patient relationship in our country, it has also negatively influenced the attitudes of society toward the severely disabled, elderly, and terminally ill.”
Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church in Alberta, Canada, likewise noted to The Daily Wire that a “secular state does not eliminate God from the public square” and instead replaces him with the deity of self. “Two areas historically viewed as falling under the prerogative of God are life and death. Under this new humanist religion, our society takes that prerogative unto itself,” Stephens commented. “Birth control, abortion, sex divorced from the marriage covenant, and assisted suicide are the logical consequence of this dystopian vision. With no thought to the Creator, the creature is ‘free’ to play God.”
“The Bible speaks about caring for the most vulnerable, the widow, and the elderly rather than killing them,” he continued. “Amidst the darkness, Christians have an opportunity to care for those deemed unfit to exist.”