After Physician-Assisted Suicide Bill, Canadian Evangelicals Reassess

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Christians joined disability advocates and UN experts to oppose amendment, but failed to stop it.

Canadian evangelicals are decrying a new law that expands access to physician-assisted suicide to people who are sick or disabled but aren’t dying.

“Many of us are quite heartbroken over this,” said Derek Ross, the executive director of Christian Legal Fellowship. “We’re now dealing with a legal system that is making more and more exceptions to the once exception-less principle that you cannot consent to the harm of having your life ended by another person and that all lives are inherently and equally full of worth and value of dignity.”

Physician-assisted suicide—known popularly as “Medical Assistance in Dying” or MAID—has been legal in Canada since 2016. The law was limited to people who were experiencing what the Criminal Code called a “grievous and irremediable medical condition”: an illness, disease, or disability that causes enduring physical or psychological pain that cannot be relieved in any way the patient accepts. To be eligible, the patient also had to be dying.

But in March, the government passed an amendment to the Criminal Code, Bill C-7, that removed the criteria that someone must be dying to receive MAID. Canada now allows people who have an illness or disability to have a physician-assisted suicide, even if their death is not imminent. People who are dying no longer have to wait 10 days. Canada also plans to allow MAID for people whose only medical condition is a mental illness.

“The law is now presenting death as a medical response to suffering in a wide range of cases—not just when somebody is already dying, but at potentially any stage of their adult life,” Ross said. “Instead of prioritizing supports to help …

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