Introduction to a six-part feature on the end of life
Physician-assisted suicide has been in the news a lot recently.
Last spring, Canadians watched as Winnipegger Susan Griffiths took her final journey to Switzerland to end her life, rather than face a slow, painful death from multiple system atrophy.
Last fall, Dr. Donald Low, a high-ranking medical official in Ontario, grabbed the attention of people across the country when he released a dramatic and heart-rending video urging the Canadian government to legalize an ill person’s right to die.
In November, the Environics Institute shared the results of a poll that found that 70 percent of Canadians support physician-assisted suicide. Sixty-eight percent of those polled believe those who help the seriously ill commit suicide should not face legal charges.
And in January the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to take another look at a decision it made in 1993 upholding a ban on assisted suicide, setting up a new legal battle over the right to die.
How should people of faith respond? As Christians, we are familiar with our religion’s opposition to euthanasia. We believe that all life is given by God, that human beings are made in God's image, and that nobody has the right to take it. We are especially concerned for those who are weak and vulnerable.
But what do other religions think about physician-assisted suicide? Canada, after all, is home to people from many other faith groups. John Longhurst recently asked four friends from the Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish traditions to share their perspectives on this important issue.
‘Right to life does not include the right to be killed’ (Evangelical Christian Fellowship)
For reflection and group discussion, go to the discussion questions related to this article.
--Posted Feb 26, 2014