Since ARPA Canada started we have been encouraging our readers to be proactive and respond to the growing push for euthanasia and assisted suicide. Sure enough, a bill has now been introduced in Parliament that has the goal of legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia. It is scheduled for debate in Parliament at the end of September. The time to act is now!
Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde has introduced this private members bill, her third attempt at doing so. The two previous attempts only failed because elections were called. It is very unlikely that an election will be called before this bill is voted on. Be prepared for a major public and Parliamentary debate on this issue through the fall and winter.
The full text of C-384 is available by clicking here. In their analysis of this bill, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition points out that "Bill C-384 does not limit intended death to the terminally ill and it does not define terminal illness." Added to this, the bill "allows intended death for people who experience depression or other chronic mental conditions." They also state that "Bill C-384 measures competency based on "appearing to be lucid". The term "appearing to be lucid" does not assure that the individual is actually lucid." Click here to read the full analysis from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
In her short speech in Parliament that she delivered when introducing this bill, Lalonde referred to how times are changing. She argued that the "slippery slope" that is often referred to has not been happening in countries that have decriminalized this. She also emphasized that this is all about advancing dignity and compassion.
How likely is this to pass? A June 2007 poll conducted by Ipsos Reid found that 71% of Canadians were in favor of physician-assisted suicide. That number quickly dropped to 45% in a different poll that also discussed the rights of the disabled, palliative care, and the need to protect vulnerable Canadians. The point is that pro-euthanasia advocates are using words like dignity and compassion to mislead the public and advance their pro-death cause. If we don't respond with the truth of euthanasia, a majority of the public may support this bill. We don't know where the MP's stand on this but a vote will likely be close.
The news isn't all bad. Shortly after Lalonde introduced her bill to legalize euthanasia, Member of Parliament Harold Albrecht has introduced a motion (M-388) that urges action against those who counsel or assist in suicides, specifically targeting those suicides that are promoted through the internet. This comes after a number of stories involving individuals who were encouraged over the internet to kill themselves. The motion reads "That, in the opinion of the House, for greater certainty, the government should take steps to ensure that counselling a person to commit suicide or aiding or abetting a person to commit suicide is an offence under section 241 of the Criminal Code, regardless of the means used to counsel or aid or abet including via telecommunications, the Internet or a computer system."
Although this may seem like a very narrow motion, the point is that it is a bold statement to Parliament that euthanasia and assisted suicide laws need to be strengthened rather than done away with.
All of this points to the need for us to engage in the public debate with the truth and to show Canada what genuine dignity and compassion is. But even more important than reaching the public (which is a long term goal that we always need to be working on) we have to be in contact with our MP's who will likely be voting on this bill this fall. Here are some action items for you, your family, and your local ARPA group to consider:
1) Pray: Ask God to soften the heart of Francine Lalonde and those who are promoting euthanasia and assisted suicide. Pray that the truth is made evident, that the disabled, the aged, and all vulnerable people are protected rather than marginalized. Pray that Christians would be a voice for these vulnerable neighbours of ours.
2) Write to or phone your MP to urge him or her to reject bill C-384 and support motion 388. If you are writing a letter or email, be sure to CC our Justice Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice as well as the Prime Minister. Click here for a complete analysis of this bill including three sample letters from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. If you are looking for some resources to help inform you about the issue, read this excellent resource from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. It is slightly dated (it refers to previous legislation) but is still relevant today because this bill is very similar and the fundamental issues remain the same. If you are looking for even more articles to better inform yourself, click here, here, and here.
3) Send Mr. Albrecht a note of thanks for standing up against the promotion of suicide.
4) Get together with a few other people or your local ARPA group and arrange for a meeting with your MP to discuss this issue. This provides an excellent opportunity to challenge pro-life MP's to act on their convictions and pro-euthanasia MP's to rethink their views. It also allows you to pray with your MP and make it clear that you are there to assist them in their difficult job of representing their riding.
5) Bring petitions and postcards (available from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition) to your church to encourage others to sign them so that your voice is amplified. Click here for an English petition in support of Mr. Albrecht's motion and click here for a French version. Both petitions are available on our website. The Heritage Reformed Church Government Correspondence Committee (who have the same relationship with ARPA Canada as local ARPA's do) are distributing hundreds of postcards in their churches. Consider doing the same in yours. Contact the EPC for details.
P.S. - Consider financially supporting the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition so that they have the resources they need to respond to this bill.
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