The spectre of assisted suicide is leading ageing people to “fear an institution that should be the last thing they should ever fear – a hospital,” Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith has said.
“The strong feeling is, ‘If I can’t speak for myself, if I’m alone with no family members, are they going to kill me?'” said Archbishop Smith in a talk at Edmonton’s Corpus Christi Church.
It is a question that “flows naturally” from the January Supreme Court decision allowing doctor-assisted suicide under certain conditions, the archbishop said. “This decision turns inside out the relationship between patient and doctor, patient and hospital; it undermines the trust that must be there.”
A series of talks across the Edmonton Archdiocese has drawn large crowds and raised poignant questions on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
The archbishop said the other “elephant in the room” is what the court decision has to say about family life.
Earlier, in a session with a group of seniors, Archbishop Smith heard how the elderly are feeling pressure to not be a burden on their children and on society.
“That’s where the so-called right-to-die slips into a duty-to-die,” he said.
In jurisdictions where physician-assisted suicide has been legal for some time, people were asked why they would seek it; they answered with avoidance of pain and suffering near the bottom of the list of reasons, while not wanting to be a burden was at the top, said Archbishop Smith.
“How does that even creep into people’s heads?” he asked.
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