Alberta bishops reiterate Catholic opposition to physician-assisted dying

Catholic leaders in Alberta are reiterating the church's opposition to physician-assisted dying.

EDMONTON — Catholic leaders in Alberta are reiterating the church’s opposition to physician-assisted dying.

After the Supreme Court struck down the law against assisted suicide last February, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said the church opposes any form of mercy killing.

The national organization wants the federal government to ensure that any changes to the law would not force health-care providers or hospitals to be involved in assisted dying.

The group has also asked Ottawa to ensure that the law would not be interpreted differently by each province and territory.

Alberta’s bishops want the province to consult with the public before taking any steps to comply with new regulations the federal government must develop by June.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta is proposing a standard that would allow physicians to say no to assisted dying, but would require them to refer a patient to another doctor.

“The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada makes legally permissible in some circumstances what is morally wrong in every circumstance: the taking of innocent human life,” Alberta’s Catholic bishops said Thursday.

“This is unacceptable in a truly just and ethical society.”

Bishop Douglas Crosby, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, has told the federal government it should have considered using the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to postpone any implementation of physician-assisted dying for at least the next five years.

In a letter to the federal ministers of justice and health last month, Crosby said a delay would have provided time for calm reflection and consultation.

“Many Canadians still do not understand that so-called ‘assisted-dying’ is a deliberately misleading term for physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia,” he wrote.

Crosby said the federal government should instead bolster palliative care services, provide more funding for research into pain relief and bring in a national suicide prevention plan.

“Caring for the dying does not include killing them or helping them kill themselves,” he wrote.

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