Voluntary Exits: Catholic Church’s Cruel Response to Assisted Suicide in Canada…


From The Friendly Atheist

Religion always has a way of taking the least loving side when it comes to controversial issues.

Love between two people? If they’re gay, pastors will throw a hissy fit.

Women seeking an abortion after being raped? Some Christians argue they shouldn’t be allowed to have that option.

And when it comes to people who choose to end their lives on their own terms, an idea known as euthanasia, Catholics in Canada are adding insult to injury.

Let me back up for a second. Last year, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled — unanimously, I might add — that patients with severe medical problems could legally ask their doctors to help end their lives.

Physician-assisted death is now legal in Canada as long as you’re 18, a Canadian citizen, mentally competent, suffering from an incurable problem, and have no chance of getting better.

It’s not a perfect law. For example, you can’t choose death unless it’s “imminent,” so people with horrible chronic disabilities are just stuck.

The law also allows doctors to say no to helping those patients, which is very convenient for doctors who oppose euthanasia for religious reasons.

That became really important recently, when an 87-year-old man wanted to end his life… but he was at a Catholic hospital that wouldn’t allow him to die on his own terms.

He spent the last several hours of his life trying to transfer to a new hospital, but the ambulance was three hours late and the ride was bumpy enough to amplify his pain.

He died with a doctor’s help only after suffering much longer than he wanted to. And he was lucky because there was another secular hospital nearby. What if there wasn’t one?

The Catholic doctors said they wouldn’t help him die even when life was nothing but agony for him.

They would rather see people tortured than help people die in peace.

It’s barbaric.

And then, to make matters worse, the Catholic Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories are now telling priests to refuse to conduct the funerals of patients who choose assisted suicide. Even if those patients were Catholic.

They don’t want to act like ending your own life is a good thing by rewarding you with a Church-sanctioned funeral.

It’s not just cruel to refuse to do this one last thing for dying patients, you could argue that it’s a threat: These priests are sending the message that if you take your own life, God will punish you in the afterlife. As if things didn’t suck already.

Keep in mind funerals aren’t even for the deceased. They’re for everyone else. These Church leaders are punishing the victim’s family — the people who might have just said their final goodbyes to a loved one — because of how that person died.

Look: The Catholic Church has every right to set its own rules. What they’re doing isn’t illegal. It’s just unethical. It’s immoral.

This is a religious institution that sees people at the worst times in their lives — when they’re literally ready to pull the plug — and refuses to give them the closure they seek.

How cruel can you be?

When you’re making medical decisions based on your religious beliefs instead of what’s best for the patients, you should not be making decisions for a hospital.

It’s one thing to be pro-life. It’s another to watch people suffering with no chance of getting better and tell them, “We’re gonna let you keep suffering because it’s what Jesus wants.”

We sometimes call out the Catholic Church for things like the sexual abuse scandal, as we should, but Church leaders will say those are problems with a handful of rogue priests.

This isn’t a handful of Catholic doctors making these decisions. This is atrocious policy coming from the top down and the doctors working at these Catholic hospitals are obligated to follow it.



I would guess that maybe the pope and priests are not worried about people going to hell. They may know that as long as people are living and are miserable, it is easier for priests to manipulate them and get them to change their beneficiary. Dead people seldom change their beneficiary. Of course I may be wrong. It could be that the pope and the priests are all good guys and are looking out for the best interests of those dying in agony. Do popes and priests have doctors help them when they are dying? I do not know!

Honestly, Catholic hospitals scare me. It’s one thing if one doctor doesn’t want to do certain sorts of things because of religious or moral convictions, but it’s entirely another thing when it’s a whole hospital. One doctor can refer you to someone else who can better serve your needs, but when you’re talking about an entire hospital? It’s not so easy to just switch to a different one. And I most certainly do not want someone else’s religion dictating what medical decisions I can make just because, say, the Catholic hospital was the closest one after I got in a car accident.