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Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith
Steve Weatherbe

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Alberta’s bishops refuse to compromise with euthanasia: no ‘safeguards’ will do

Steve Weatherbe

EDMONTON, Alberta, April 1, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Alberta’s Catholic bishops have told the provincial government that Catholic health care personnel and facilities in the province “cannot as individuals and as institutions participate in, condone or advocate for physician assisted suicide or euthanasia.”

Responding to a request for recommendations from the health ministry for “practical safeguards” to the implementation of euthanasia, the bishops said from a Catholic perspective this was not possible.

“As bishops, we cannot propose ‘practical safeguards’ with the knowledge that advocates for these practices will use these same ‘practical safeguards’ to advance their own cause.”

They continued that they could only recommend a complete ban on any form of euthanasia or assisted suicide. “Use whatever constitutional and regulatory means you have at your disposal to prevent these practices from happening in our province.”

So-called “safeguards” won’t help if the patient has already died at the hands of a euthanasiast. “The risks surrounding physician assisted death are absolute; mistakes and abuses cannot be undone,” the bishops wrote.

The bishops argued that the recommendations of a federal parliamentary committee put not only the elderly, disabled and mentally ill at risk, but also children, by setting far too low a bar for informed consent.

“The presence of depression or other mental illness can seriously affect a person’s ability to give free and informed consent,” they wrote. “What is needed in Alberta for all vulnerable people, including those with mental illness, is not legalized euthanasia or assisted suicide, but rather, a serious commitment to treat them.”

As well, the bishops warned that the practice of euthanasia would cause Albertans to lose trust in the health system and trample on the consciences of doctors and nurses.

The Catholic Church operates 18 hospitals and care facilities in Alberta.

Read the Alberta bishops' full submission:

 

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