The pro-life office of the London, Ontario diocese has stressed euthanasia as one of the most important life issues facing the community.

In a statement issued to parishes in the diocese, the pro-life office said it is crucial that people be motivated to oppose any legislative plans to decriminalize assisted suicide. The push to oppose the practice has been inspired in part by concerns that Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs of Manitoba plans to introduce a bill in the Senate which would remove assisted suicide from the Criminal Code.

“Many people wrongly associate the right to refuse treatment or the removal of life support with assisted suicide and euthanasia,” the pro-life office says. “The right to refuse treatment or the removal of life support having nothing to do with assisted suicide. Many people fear dying with uncontrollable pain and view assisted suicide as an option in these cases, and yet new advances in palliative medicine have made effective pain control possible, 95 per cent of the time. The medical arguments for decriminalizing assisted suicide are false.”
In addition to the Carstairs announcement, the pro-life office is concerned about the sympathetic media treatment of suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian and his crusade to win legal sanction for assisted suicide. Kevorkian has assisted in the deaths of more than 35 suffering patients. In some cases, Kevorkian’s victims were not terminally ill, but sought an early death due to depression and loss of support.

“Assisted suicide seems like a god option to many people who are lonely and suffering,” the pro-life office says. “The action of people who give themselves to help others in need relieves the loneliness and gives hope to the sick and dying.”

To help spread the message against assisted suicide, the office has invited disability rights activist Mark Pickup to speak to groups October 15 through 18.

Pickup, winner of this year’s Kurelek award for his pro-life efforts, is afflicted with multiple sclerosis.

His message is one of hope, especially for the disabled. He will share his views on how euthanasia would impact the disabled community.