(MONTREAL ) May 24, 1998 -- Anglicans across the country will be asked to respond to a new report which says the church cannot support euthanasia or assisted suicide.
The report, which will be presented to the 300 members gathered for the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod meeting here this week, states that such practices represent a "serious failure of human community".
"The Christian response is always one of hope," the report says. "From this hope there arises the commitment to give all members of society, especially the most vulnerable, the assurance that they will be supported in all circumstances of their lives, that they will not have dehumanizing medical interventions forced upon them, and that they will not be abandoned in their suffering."
Although the report acknowledges that individuals on both sides of this issue hold genuine concern for the protection of human dignity, it states that euthanasia is likely to have different impact on different parts of society. "We are concerned about the impact that making euthanasia available would have on the elderly and the disabled. We are also concerned that women may be more severely impacted than men."
The report goes on "We would further urge that the attempt to change the law and practice at a time when health services are being cut back and costs downloaded onto patients and their families is inappropriate."
The report notes the Anglican church's long history of providing many forms of care and support for the dying, including palliative care and hospices which attempt to alleviate pain and maintain the dignity of life.
"Good medical practice sustains the commitment to care even when it is no longer possible to cure," the report says. "Such care may involve the removal of therapies that are ineffective and/or intolerably burdensome, in favor of palliative measures. We do not support the idea that care can include an act or omission whose primary intention is to end a person's life."
The report adds: "Our underlying commitment is that health care delivery as a whole should reflect the desire of Canadians to be a community that sustains the dignity and worth of all its members".
General Synod delegates are to debate the report in the next few days.
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Contact: Sam Carriere or Lorie Chortyk, General Synod News Room (514) 398-5192; Cell phones: (514) 953-7981 (Carriere) or (514) 953-8091 (Chortyk)