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July 26, 2016 (Alex Schadenberg) — Perhaps it is just me who has noticed but the conversation around euthanasia has become far too quiet. In my own case, as someone who spent a few years speaking out against euthanasia, as well as writing anti-euthanasia essays, I could count on someone from time to time to comment about the issue and usually commiserate over our mutual opposition.

A few weeks ago, while waiting for mass to begin, a priest offered his condolences. At first I did not get what he meant. But I soon realized it was over the final legalization of euthanasia in Canada.

I really did not react. Was not sure what to say. No one can spend every waking moment thinking and talking about euthanasia. It takes too much out of you.

I am sure the priest meant well. But what he should have said is something like this: 

“What a shame they have made this legal. We are really going to have to redouble our efforts to make sure our friends do not avail themselves of this evil.”

My abiding concern is that the vast majority of people have lost interest. They are going to be fooled because the final legislation was not as odious as what the special committee recommended and nor what the Supreme Court laid out in Carter decision.

To me this is a trap. It is like in the old Westerns when the sheriff says, “I don’t like it. It’s too darn quiet.”

But this is not over. I have said this before and I will risk repeating myself: Legalized euthanasia is a travesty and no one need avail himself or herself of it. It is a law to be spit on.

We can still do what we can to educate people and continue to lobby for greatly improve palliative care – which is sorely lacking in Canada. At the moment only 30 per cent of Canadians who need that care can get it.

We can also personally care for others and help people live when they are feeling drawn to end their lives. We can also support the Compassionate Community Care Service that is being promoted by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

This is not just about religious leaders staying silent: Those in the pews have a responsibility too. At least for Catholics, Vatican II gave the laity that power.

It was bad enough that during the debate on euthanasia that far too many priests kept their mouths shut on this. I will go to my grave never understanding how any priest could not confront this critical life issue. It is not as if it is still be debated at the Vatican or there is a Catholic position that supports euthanasia. It remains a mystery and an awful legacy.

What this means is if your religious leaders are not speaking out you have to cajole them to start. If they will not speak to your church council. If they lack interest find others in your parish that feel as you do and work together.

When we present ourselves before God we must come clean. We cannot stand there and pretend we are something we are not. If you think God would nod his head in approval at a pro-euthanasia stance you are sorely deluding yourself.

Some religious leaders and so-called lay voices of conscience may try to convince you that the only real death with dignity is at the end of a needle. They are liars. 

Please do not forget what is going on around us. Holland and Belgium also started out by intending restrictions in their euthanasia laws. And today in both countries you are lethally injected, and often encouraged in many cases, for nearly any reason at all.

We lost round one. Let us not lose round two.

Reprinted with permission from Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.


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