An atheist colleague argues that there is nothing wrong, and a lot right, in giving lethal injection to a comatose person or anyone else who has no chance of recovery. How did I answer? V.L. Melville, Sask.

Years ago, in a detective novel by Dorothy Sayers, I read this same argument put to an Anglican priest. His answer, in part was as follows: “I think the wrongness of the thing lies much more in the harm it does to the killer than to anything it can do to the person who is killed… It is bad for a human being to get to feel that he has any right whatsoever to dispose of another person’s life to his own advantage. It leads him to think he is above all laws. Society is never safe from the man who has deliberately committed murder with impunity… It [one murder] leads to readiness to commit others.” (The Dawson Pedigree)

Euthanasia destroys trust; trust in the medical profession, and even in the family. Pope John Paul II called trust “The basis of every authentic personal relationship” e.g. the family, marriage, friends, business, police, the rule of law. Without trust, life becomes a case of everyman for himself, and civilized society perishes. We already see the results of lack of trust in our cities, in measures against theft and for personal security. Once people know that some doctors are killers and not healers their trust in the medical profession will be damaged, if not totally destroyed. Today, Holland is a country where many of the sick and elderly are afraid – even terrified – of hospitals and unknown doctors. Euthanasia is destructive of civilized society.

It is known that women who have had abortions sometimes try to commit suicide. Are there any real statistics? M.K. Stratford, Ont.

No. There are some studies, but for a number of reasons any attempt at statistics would be suspect. This fact was made clear in ­The Physical and Psycho-Social Effects of Abortion on Women; A Report by the Commission of Inquiry into the operation and Consequences of The Abortion Act. (June 1994). The Abortion Act mentioned was the British one of 1967 and the Commission began its work in 1992, to study its effects after 25 years.

It is of interest to note that the Inquiry Commission was “not to look at, or make a statement on, the ethics of abortion itself, but instead to investigate the effects of abortion on those directly involved – the women.” One such effect is suicide.

Mentioned in the Report is “a symposium held (1976) at Westminster Hospital [in London] into 1000 attempted suicides in the hospital attachment area during 12 months, mainly of young people.” “The researchers reported that the only common factor was that ‘…several times as many women who attempted suicide had had abortions as there were in the control group…’ and the figure rose to nine times as many women as in the general population. In the survey, not one woman who attempted suicide was pregnant.”

What is very significant in a discussion of suicide/abortion statistics is the following passage. “…the Commission was concerned to learn from Dr. Kumar, who was representing the Royal College of Psychiatrists, that it would not be routines or even likely that someone being treated for attempted suicide would be asked about any history of previous abortions. Furthermore, no further investigations into this link have been instigated by the psychiatric profession.”

A further hindrance in obtaining statistics is the factor of “denial.” It is well known that some women deny – even to themselves – that they have ever had an abortion. Many more deny that anything they suffer, including depression, is the result of a previous abortions.

The British Commission dealt only with the effects of abortion on women. Fathers, too, have attempted suicide when their children – still in the mother’ womb – has been killed.