The Canadian Supreme Court in Quebec recently made a ruling on euthanasia, effectively making it easy for anyone diagnosed with a medical condition that causes “irremediable suffering” to die by a physicians’ hand. This ruling will extend to patients with mental illnesses like depression and even to children.
The only requirement initially when euthanasia was first legalized in Canada was that the death must be “reasonably foreseeable,” which was a rather small limitation. But recently the Canadian Supreme Court decided to remove that protection. Justice Jean-Louis Baudouin said that limiting death only to patients with a terminal illness is “forcing (others) to endure harsh physical and psychological suffering. The court has no hesitation in concluding that the requirement that their death has to be reasonably foreseeable is violating the rights to liberty and security of [the plaintiffs].”
This broad interpretation has already claimed its first victim. A man in British Columbia was euthanized by his doctors because he was suffering from depression. Despite the desperate pleas of his loved ones in the days before his death, he was killed by a physician administered lethal injection.
“He didn’t have a life-threatening disease,” his brother, Gary Nichols, told CTV News. “He was capable of getting around. He was capable of doing almost anything that you had to do to survive. I didn’t think he had a sound mind at all.”
But once death becomes legalized with only a few guidelines, then situations like what happened to Mr. Nichols will become common place.
The patient likely told doctors that he was “suffering,” which unfortunately has been defined by society as a vague term that could be used to justify nearly anything. For example, a man who has lost a limb in an automobile accident could be seen as “suffering” with the loss of his limb and could possibly request euthanasia. There could even be a child with a terminal illness or a severe mental disability. A doctor could determine that his or her “suffering” is too great, and that euthanasia would be the better option. While these are challenging times in people’s lives, sometimes the best things come through suffering.
To quote Dr. James Wilson from the television show House M.D., “Dying’s easy—living’s hard.”
There is something incredibly poignant in that statement, as Dr. Gregory House acknowledges in the show. When death becomes an easy out, then people feel free to use it more frequently rather than finding the joy and blessings that can come through suffering and adversity.
In Romans 5:3-5, the scripture says, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hears through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
For those that are facing either a tough medical diagnosis or a time of severe depression, without the hope of Christ then suffering feels like a burden. But it isn’t. There is something beautiful about being with and supporting someone in their final days or helping them through a time of trials. It’s an opportunity to minister to a loved one. Why would some medical doctors want to deny families that precious time?
The alternative to euthanasia is palliative care, which is a “specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness” that focuses on providing “relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness.” Unfortunately, the funding for that in Canada is limited.
About a month ago, my aunt passed away from cancer. I know that my cousins would not trade their time with her for anything in the world. Did she suffer? Yes, but that wasn’t the point. Even in the midst of her suffering there was hope that soon she would be reunited with her Savior and there would be no more pain. Also, as Christians, how can we not embrace that time with a loved one, especially if they don’t know Christ? Until their final breath, every moment is an opportunity to share the Gospel.
You can’t ask for much more than that.