By Hilary White

  OTTAWA, February 23, 2007 ( – The director of Canada’s Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), warns that those campaigning for the “right to die” could be leading the country towards an established obligation for elderly and vulnerable people to commit suicide.

  In an interview with Zenit Catholic news agency, Michèle Boulva said that the doctrine of total personal autonomy “threatens the common good of society because it has consequences not only for the person who chooses to die, but for the whole society.”

“Our perception of the value and dignity of every human life would change. As a consumer product, human life would lose its value as its ‘expiration date’ approaches.”

  She warned that in Canada, an aging population and “improved health care is a perfect recipe for the promotion of euthanasia and assisted suicide.” Signs are growing in those countries whose medical systems are publicly funded that euthanasia is increasingly being promoted as a method of cost reduction.

  Instead of capitulating to the demands of euthanasia advocates, Boulva said, governments should provide structures to support friends and relatives of sick and vulnerable people  to help them “assume their responsibilities toward their sick loved ones, grown old and dying.”

  COLF has produced a pamphlet, “Living, Suffering and Dying…what for?” that aims to help families find meaning and value in life in the midst of suffering.

  Boulva said that although the publication is addressed to Catholics, it is of interest to all those “seeking happiness and the meaning of existence and suffering. We conceived it in the context of a de-Christianized society which needs to rediscover its roots.”

“Some voices today are using individual freedom to call for the “right to die” when illness seems to make life too heavy a burden. This brings up the question of the purpose of existence and the purpose of suffering. Christians find the answer to these questions in the Gospel. It is there that they understand they are not the masters, but the stewards of their lives,” the pamphlet reads.

  Boulva, who has been with COLF since 2004, said to Zenit that while euthanasia promoters claim to be interested in relieving suffering, this is a “pretense” and “aberration.”

  The sick, she said, “who ask for death do not always do so because of their suffering. For many it is a cry for help against loneliness, before the sentiment of feeling that they are a burden for others.”

  She said, “The response to their cry is an attentive presence full of human warmth and love. They need care, to be heard, the affection of their loved ones, and of the caring staff to endure their suffering with dignity.”

  Read the COLF pamphlet, Living, Suffering and Dying…what for? (Adobe reader required)