“ALBERTA SUPPORT GROWS FOR ASSISTED SUICIDE”
By Darcy Henton Calgary Herald Oct. 15th, 2014
The Supreme Court of Canada is set to reexamine the issue of assisted suicide. According to a new poll 78 percent of Albertan’s supported the legal right of the terminally ill to access assisted suicide. This survey consisted of a telephone interview of 564 Alberta adults and was conducted by the Citizen Society Research Lab at Lethbridge College. Political scientist, Faron Ellis who supervised the study reported that, “This has been the trend. It just keeps going up.” He stated, “We believe this shows that Albertan’s are becoming less traditional and more progressive on core, bedrock societal issues.”
A question that arises from this study is whether or not the 78 percent of people support assisted suicide or the right to make choices for oneself without the inference of government or both. The demand may be for Freedom of Choice, not assisted suicide. From a religious perspective most faiths do not support suicide in general. Historically in Judaism, those who committed suicide had to be buried in a separate part of a cemetery although today, excuses for the suicide are often considered and this is not practiced. Assisted suicide, however, is strictly forbidden. Christian religions consider suicide as contrary to the commandant, “Thou shall not kill.” In Catholic religion, however, the view that there will be no salvation for one who commits suicide no longer holds true. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2283, it states, “We should not despair, the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own life. By way known to his alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutatory repentance.” Reasons for suicide such as grave psychiatric disturbance, ongoing fear of hardship, suffering and torture can diminish the responsibility for a person who commits suicide. Orthodox Christians, in contrast, continue to view suicide as “self-murder” and assisted suicide as “murder” as it rejects God’s gift of physical life. Islamic religion views suicide, as one of the greatest sins and it is detrimental to one’s spiritual journey. According to Hindu religion a person who commits suicide will wander the earth as a ghost. A Buddhist believes that one who commits suicide will spend their next life in sorrow.
While it can be argued that the role of organized religion is less significant in the lives of Canadian’s today, a survey of 3000 Canadians (Feb/March 2014), found that two thirds of the sample continue to believe in some form of God. For many of these people their faith beliefs may not be supportive of assisted suicide, but they believe in an individuals right to choose. Some of these individuals may be the medical practitioners who might be expected to perform the assisted suicide. They too should be able to choose if this is a procedure they ethically feel comfortable to offer. Assisted suicide is a complex issue, but the question before the Supreme Court needs to focus on an individual’s right to choose, not the ethics that surround the act itself.