The position of Abrahamic religions on end of life and palliative care
Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
Yesterday 28 October at the Casina PIo IV in the Vatican, 40 representatives of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths signed the joint Position Paper of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions on matters concerning the end of life.
Invited by the Pontifical Academy for Life, presided over by His Excellency Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the religious, including the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development Peter K. A. Turkson, have committed themselves in 12 points to stating that euthanasia and assisted suicide are morally and intrinsically wrong and should be prohibited without exception. Any pressure and action on patients to end their lives is categorically rejected.
A very important point for the mission of the Dicastery is that concerning Health Care Workers that states that no health care worker should be forced or subjected to pressure to witness directly or indirectly the deliberate and intentional death of a patient through assisted suicide or any form of euthanasia, especially when such practices go against the health care worker’s religious beliefs, because there should be always respect for conscientious objection to acts that conflict with a person’s ethical values. This remains valid, continues the Paper, even if such acts have been declared legal at a local level or by categories of persons.
Very significant, the joint declaration also addresses the spiritual and material accompaniment of the terminally ill and their families, as well as the use of medical technology at the end of life and the promotion of palliative care.
Rabbi Yosef P. Glassman, MD, of Bergenfield, has won a lawsuit to temporarily stop the New Jersey Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act that had been scheduled to take effect on August 16. The law would allow physicians, under certain conditions, to prescribe drugs to terminally ill patients for the sole purpose of ending their lives. But the battle has just begun.
In an email interview, Rabbi Dr. Glassman explained why he initiated the lawsuit. “I was motivated to act by the chilling prospect of being a part of the suicide process, which strongly conflicted with both my professional and religious values. I was fortunate enough to engage in meaningful discussions with several concerned Jewish community members on the topic, and I decided to take a firm position, being involved in the field of geriatrics. Some people who may oppose my action may say that I want dying patients to suffer, chas v’shalom. Quite the opposite—we as physicians have ample tools to alleviate the suffering for the living, even for the terminally ill, without the need to license suicide.” . . . [Full text]
The Globe and Mail
British Columbia’s physician regulator has cleared a doctor of any wrongdoing for sneaking into an Orthodox Jewish nursing home that forbids assisted death and ending the life of a resident who wanted to die in his own bed.
In a letter dated July 5, 2019, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC) dismissed an official complaint against Ellen Wiebe, saying the Vancouver doctor did not break any of the regulator’s rules when she helped Barry Hyman, 83, die inside the Louis Brier Home and Hospital. . . [Full text]
The Catholic Register
New evidence heard in court has given Ontario’s medical conscientious objectors renewed hope.
Two days of hearings before the Ontario Court of Appeal Jan. 21-22 has provided Christian Medical and Dental Society (CMDS) executive director Deacon Larry Worthen a dollop of confidence as he waits for a decision from the three-judge panel. . . Full Text
Research into human development involves the use of human embryos and their derivative cells and tissues. How religions view the human embryo depends on beliefs about ensoulment and the inception of personhood, and science can neither prove nor refute the teaching of those religions that consider the zygote to be a human person with an immortal soul. This Spotlight article discusses some of the dominant themes that have emerged with regard to how different religions view the human embryo, with a focus on the Christian faith as well as Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Islamic perspectives.
Neaves W. The status of the human embryo in various religions. Development 2017 144: 2541-2543; doi: 10.1242/dev.151886
Ines San Martin
ROME – Argentina didn’t exist as a nation when Shakespeare inspired the line “politics make strange bedfellows,” but if the Bard were around today, he might well look to the pope’s native country for proof, where the once leading conservative rival of the future pontiff and Amnesty International find themselves in an unlikely alliance over a proposed religious freedom law.
In the case of Archbishop Héctor Rubén Aguer of La Plata, seen as the country’s most fiercely traditional prelate on matters such as the legalization of abortion and contraception, he insists the law could threaten the Church’s protected status under the country’s constitution, while Amnesty International fears the law could deprive Argentine youth of their sexual rights. . . [Full text]
TORONTO – Three days and nearly two dozen lawyers arguing the broad principles and technical details of constitutional law before a three-judge has panel left Christian Medical and Dental Society executive director Deacon Larry Worthen “cautiously optimistic.”
“The court certainly heard our arguments,” Worthen told The Catholic Register on June 15 outside the courtroom as lawyers shook hands and dispersed in the hallways of historic Osgoode Hall.
The trial before the Ontario Court of Justice was likely the first leg in a battle all the combatants expect will end in at the Supreme Court of Canada. Five dissenting Christian doctors who all object to abortion, chemical birth control, petri-dish human fertilization and assisted suicide asked the court to strike down a 2015 College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario rule that forces them to provide an “effective referral” for services they reject on the basis of their religious faith or conscience. . . [Full text]
College’s rules infringe on doctors’ right to object on conscientious, religious grounds, groups argue
Rules forcing Ontario doctors to offer medically assisted dying — or at least a timely referral — infringe on their constitutional right to object on conscientious or religious grounds, several physicians’ groups told a divisional court tribunal this week.
Their lawyer is asking the tribunal for a judicial review of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s (CPSO) recent policy on assisted dying, which requires doctors to perform an “effective referral.”
But several groups including the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies and Canadian Physicians for Life, along with five individuals, are arguing the policy is the moral equivalent of offering the procedure themselves. . . [Full text]
The Catholic Register
Doctors are being bullied, silenced and coerced in a pro-euthanasia environment which is forcing those who object to medically assisted suicide to provide an effective referral for patients who wish to die, provincial legislators were told during hearings into Bill 84.
Oncologist Dr. Ellen Warner told an all-party committee that physicians . . . are “being bullied” and are experiencing a “horrendous stress level.” She described colleagues who object to assisted suicide speaking in code and using alternative email addresses to discuss doctor-assisted death. . . Hamilton Dr. Jane Dobson held back tears as she described the pressure she’s faced since the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario ruled that doctors who have a moral, ethical or religious objection to assisted dying must nevertheless provide an “effective referral” for the procedure. . . [Full text]
The Catholic Register
A coalition of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders has sent an open letter to all 107 Ontario MPPs urging them to work together and “find a pathway that respects the rights of medical professionals, facilities and patients.”
The letter was sent March 27 as committee hearings were underway regarding Bill-84, which will regulate medically assisted dying in Ontario.
The coalition urges MPPs to amend the Bill to include conscience protection for doctors and other health-care workers who oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, and to follow the Alberta model to create a “care coordination service” that provides patient access to assisted dying without requiring a direct doctor referral. . . .[Full text]