07 November 2008

A Call to Arms

In recent days I've blogged a lot about euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) - specifically the Washington I-1000 Initiative, and the troubling response of my legal classmates to the issue. It's also the part of the issue I'm writing my paper on, so it's something I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading about.

And I've come to the realization that we, as Catholics and as pro-lifers need to get our act together on this issue. I've spoken to pro-lifers who think that dealing with abortion is more immediate because 2000 babies are dying every week from abortion in Canada (and 3000 in the US) and a million every week worldwide, and that is a genocide. We are losing millions of children to this and we have to fight with every fiber of our being against it. However, the forces of the culture of death have begun to marshal around the issue of EAS, and we also have to do something about that.

In some ways, we are in a better position to prevent EAS than we are to prevent abortions right now, and we need to keep it that way. Currently, those of us fighting against EAS are in the same position pro-lifers were in before Roe v. Wade (US) and before R v. Morgantaler (Canada). Right now, the law in Canada doesn't allow for either euthanasia or assisted suicide. Euthanasia is prosecutable as murder, and assisted suicide has its own charge in s. 241 of the Criminal Code. We need to keep it that way! But the only way for us to do that is to be vocal about it. We need to speak about the issue, and we need to create strong arguments against it. Because, as abortion has shown us, once it's legal it's really hard to change the law, and trying to put in "protections" haven't been all that successful.

Right now, we are in a position to launch an offensive battle against EAS. If we don't launch it, we will end up playing a catch-up, reactive, defensive action against the forces of death, just like we are with abortion. So, you ask, how do we fight this battle?

The battle is going to be won in the halls of Parliament, the courtrooms of our nation and in the media. That's where we need to fight this.

In 2004, Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde introduced a private members bill that would allow EAS. This bill was defeated, not by a vote in Parliament, but by the 2006 election being called. Again in 2006, she introduced another EAS bill. It again was only defeated by dying on the order paper when the 2008 election was called. You can read the 2004 bill here and the 2006 bill here. We don't know how Parliament will vote on this issue. However, she has said that she will reintroduce the same bill in the current Parliament at her earliest opportunity. There is now a group in BC, in the wake of the Washington decision, pushing for EAS to be legalized in Canada.

If they go the legislative route, the only people who can stop EAS are the MP's. I encourage everyone to contact their MP frequently about this issue, and all life issues. Whenever you hear a story in the news, forward it to them, with your opinions about it. MP's represent YOU and have a duty to do what the majority of their constituents want. The only way they know what their constituents want is if they hear from them, so please contact your MP. You can find your MP's name and contact information here.

If this battle is fought in the courts- and there is a good chance that it will be, because I think Parliament will be afraid to deal with this issue because it's a political hot potato (just like the same-sex marriage issue) it will be a long expensive battle. The only way to help the fight here is to make sure the organizations that fight this with intervener status, like the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition have the funding to do it. (Intervener status means they have a right to make submissions before the court deciding the issue.)

The final, and perhaps most important battleground is the media, because it is the media that Parliament and the courts will look to when making "public policy" decisions, which is what these are. They are looking for consensus among Canadians about what they want. We need to fight this battle against death in the forefront of public opinion. We need to challenge the terms that the pro-death crowd uses- terms like "dying with dignity" and "unbearable pain and suffering." A public battle is fought and won by gaining the hearts and minds of the population. The population is very busy and likes catchy phrases that sound good that they can repeat without really learning anything about it. We need to challenge the meaning of those terms- ask them to be defined. We need to redefine them for our benefit. If you want a good example of where this has been done before- look at the pro-choice movement. Pro-lifer's have science on their side, but the pro-choicers won because they had the language. We need to make sure that the terms the media uses are terms we want them using. That can only be done by having a public dialogue on the issue.

Consider this a call to arms.

Rally the troops.

Get ready to fight, because this is going to be a long hard fight.

Those of you who are prayer warriors; start praying.

And let's win this battle without losing the legalization fight. We can if we start fighting now.

We don't need compromise and appeasement, we need to save lives.

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