The Centre for Life Understanding

The following is Part 6 of a 6 part article. Originally published in The Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart, Toronto, in 1980, reprinted here with permission.

A statement from the Science Council of Canada in the Toronto Star, August 18 1979, notes that “mercy killing could well become the social issue of the next century – somewhat like the subject of abortion today.” With the events which have transpired during the past year, it would appear that a euthanasia crisis of unparalled proportions will be upon us long before the turn of the century.

Polly Toynbee, writing in the Manchester Guardian on February 3, 1980, reported: “Membership of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society has been soaring since their announcement that they would publish, strictly, for members only, a leaflet describing the safest and most painless way to kill yourself.” In a companion article by Corinna Adam entitled How not to make a mess of it the author states: “The system as it stands is based on lies. The suspended sentences given to mercy killers are arranged on the basis of reducing the charge from murder to manslaughter, and then finding a doctor to plead ‘diminished responsibility’ on the accused’s behalf: i.e. to perjure himself.” The author concludes, “Finally, perhaps I should declare my interest. With some 30 years to go, if I achieve my Biblical term, I’ve joined the movement.”

Perhaps this is a sign of the times- an author publicly identifying with doctors who perjure themselves and “joining the movement as well. She has been swept up in a movement which has been gaining momentum, with the help of the communications media. For the media have found out that death, like sex, is a marketable commodity. But what sells is not the natural, the normal, or the ordinary. It is the extraordinary, the abnormal, the unnatural and the obscenity which brings in the cash.

In an article entitled Living or Dying in a Coma: Legalizing the Definition of Brain Death by Edwin L. Lisson (Linacre Quarterly, August 1979) the author recalled the movie Coma: “Bathed in ultraviolet light, human bodies hang by thin wires, respirator tubes connected at the neck, food tubes leading in, waste tubes leading out. Thus in vivid living color, the movie Coma brought into the movie houses, and through TV promotions, into the homes, many of the crucial issues surrounding human death which were once hidden behind the doors of hospital intensive care unites.” The movie uncovers a sinister plot in which living cadavers (corpses with circulation continued through the use of technology? Are preserved for the international marketing of organs for transplant. It is hardly surprising that the public would react negatively to such technological violence and the marketing of the human body and its parts.