After the short-lived but excitable volleys between the House of Commons and the Senate, our parliamentarians voted in both houses to enact a fairly broad license for what is euphemistically being called medical aid in dying (MAID). The ink was barely dry before some of the more radical members of the Liberal caucus and senate contingent were calling for the law to be loosened and there was a legal challenge against the new law for being too restrictive. In this environment what are pro-lifers to do?
The situation is not entirely analogous to abortion: the Supreme Court said that there is a right to doctor-assisted suicide and Parliament passed a law regulating the practice. For abortion, the Court struck down the existing law and Parliament has never passed a new abortion law even though the Supreme Court acknowledged the right of the legislature to enact a new law.
Still, in the nearly five decades since Pierre Trudeau’s abortion law was passed and the nearly three decades since the Court threw that law out, pro-lifers have never given up the fight to restore legal protection for the unborn. We must not surrender simply because we do not like the outcome of this particular Parliament’s actions. We must rebuild a culture of life that resonates in the health care system, the political arena, and our own lives.
First – and this should not need stating – we cannot participate in the regime of doctor-assisted suicide: health care professionals must resist taking part in the killing of patients and we must eschew the practice for ourselves and our families.
Second, we must now focus on building a system of excellent palliative and psychiatric care that will dampen the demand for the desperate to see death as a solution to their problems of mental anguish and physical pain. This will require a rebuild from within the healthcare system and the resources from government to carry it out.
Third, we must lobby our politicians to review the assisted-suicide and euthanasia regime with an eye to addressing its abuses, curtailing the practice in the future, and eventually reversing the law, probably through a constitutional amendment. It will not be easy or quick, but the pro-life community knows something about perseverance.
Lastly, we must build a culture of love and compassion and inclusiveness. This means radically changing how we interact with one another. No one should feel alone or think of herself as a burden to their loved ones or that her life does not have value. It will become easier to overturn the Medical Assistance in Dying Act when there is no demand for doctor-assisted suicide.
C-14 has become law, and now we have much work to do.