After the Society of Canadian Psychiatry (SCP) sounded the alarm late last year, the government of Canada has now temporarily put the brakes on its expansion of the country’s already liberal euthanasia regime. It had planned to make euthanasia available to the mentally ill as of March 2023, but is giving the system more time to get ready. The SCP’s warning was based on clinicians’ current inability to assess when a mental illness is or is not “irremediable” (i.e., irreversible/incurable). The SCP asserted as a given that euthanasia shouldn’t be given to people who may still recover. So, their argument went, since we can’t yet tell when someone with a mental illness will or won’t recover, it is premature to be offering it to the mentally ill.
The organization Dying with Dignity, which has been leading the charge for state-sponsored death in Canada, was upset by this decision. “We must avoid creating barriers that will prolong grievous suffering.” Sounding very similar, Justice Minister David Lametti said:
“Remember that suicide generally is available to people. This is a group within the population who, for physical reasons and possible mental reasons, can’t make that choice themselves to do it themselves.”
Before Canada legalized assisted suicide back in 2016, ARPA Canada urged the Supreme Court of Canada and the federal government to recognize that once the sacred line of the 6th Commandment is crossed, condoning some killing, it will become impossible to draw a new line that will hold. The past six years bears this out. Our society no longer knows which suicides should be prevented and which should be celebrated as an expression of choice.
Lobbying government to stop (and reverse!) the train is important and needs to continue. But given that the train keeps roaring down the tracks, the Church needs to do what it can to get people off the tracks. More than ever before, Canada needs to hear the hope of the Gospel, which gives meaning to all lives. Have your neighbors heard it?