Addressing a hundred and ten participants in a one-day workshop on euthanasia, Professor Joseph Boyle of St. Micheal’s College, University of Toronto, denounced the hypocrisy surrounding euthanasia or mercy killing.

“There is no difference between passive and active euthanasia,” he stated.  “Both end in the death of a human being.” Professor Boyle then went on to say that passive euthanasia, homicide by omission or the withholding of certain necessary treatments should not be confused with cessation of treatment when death appeared imminent.

When making decisions surrounding cessation of treatment, he said prudent consideration should be given to the benefits/burdens ratio, adding that there was no moral dilemma when treatments represented disproportionate burdens.

Addressing Living Wills, Professor Boyle emphasized the fact that patients have always had the right to refuse treatment.  While many pro-life leaders and organizations oppose Living Wills, he said he personally did not have a problem with them

The second facilitator, Dr. Barry de Veber, a paediatrician specializing in children suffering terminal illnesses, defended the discretion of the attending physician when it came to deciding treatment.

He highlighted the need for a patient to have total trust in any person who might be given Power of Attorney or the right to decide on a patient’s behalf.

Dr. de Veber described the Canadian Medical Association as a small group of anti-life who spoke for all Canadian doctors without proper consultation.  In addressing the CMA’s euthanasia paper he said the CMA was a dangerous organization.

Speaking on pain management he pleaded for total pain management, including spiritual pain management.  With correct implementation of medication, no person need suffer un-bearable pain and suffering.

Care in the use of language was seen as crucial given that what was once extraordinary care is now ordinary, just as terminal illness did not necessarily mean that a patient was facing imminent death.  Classic examples were Cystic Fibrosis, Down’s Syndrome, certain forms of cancer, particularly Leukemia in children.

In summarizing the discussions, CLC president Jim Hughes underscored the urgent need for pro-life activists to study the complex nature of euthanasia and the manner in which promoters of euthanasia manipulate not only patients and their families in times of stress, but politicians who also need to be educated.