CRC in Canada to Monitor Assisted Dying Legislation

The Christian Reformed Church in Canada is monitoring expected legislation regarding what is known as Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) and encouraging advocacy for protection of vulnerable communities and increased support for palliative care as an alternative to MAID. 

A Quebec court recently ruled that sections of Canada's federal legislation on MAID is unconstitutional, requiring a change to the law. 

The CRC’s Centre for Public Dialogue is the ministry for education and advocacy for just public policy in Canada. It is collaborating with the CRC’s Disability Concerns and Chaplaincy & Care ministries. It is also in dialogue with ecumenical partners including the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and Cardus, a Christian think tank in Canada.

In February, the Centre of Public Dialogue’s director Mike Hogeterp told Canadian members of the Council of Delegates that the church is behind on ethical analysis of this situation. “Sitting in a cancer ward makes this more real,” he said. “We need a synodical-level relook at these issues. It needs profound theological reflection.” The Council of Delegates, which meets on behalf of the CRC’s annual synod between synod meetings, met Feb. 19-21 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The CRC has no official position on euthanasia or assisted dying, except for its condemnation of “the wanton or arbitrary destruction of any human being at any stage of its development from the point of conception to the point of death,” from a report on abortion adopted in 1972.

The last time a synod addressed the issue was when Synod 2000 received a report on end-of-life issues, written by what was then known as the Committee for Contact with the Government. (See Acts of Synod 2000, pp. 685-86, 706-9, 724.)

That synod encouraged families to engage in frank discussions about the issues surrounding death and dying; encouraged churches to teach a biblical view of death as well as the gospel’s hope of life after death; encouraged congregations to cherish and embrace those who are disabled and those suffering near the end of life; encouraged advocating for allocation of health care funding for adequate palliative services, home care, and medical support services for all people; and encouraged the promotion of life-affirming legislation and opposition to legislation that endorses assisted suicide or mercy killing.

About the Author

Gayla Postma is news editor for The Banner.

See comments (3)

Comments

I'd be curious to know the full extent of Mike's remarks to the Canadian members of the COD and why he believes we need a synodical re-evaluation of assisted suicide/end-of-life care. Such a stance seems to imply our current viewpoint is insufficient, perhaps?

Hi Jeremy,

thanks for the question.  As the article explains, the last synodical deliberation on these matters was in 2000.  Since then medical care and palliation options have developed siginficantly, and legal frameworks for MAID have been developed in several US states and in Canada as a whole.  These technologial and legal changes present ethical dillemas which we'd do well to wrestle with as churches, pastors, chaplains and medical practioners seek to be a faithful presence to people at the end of their lives.  -mh

Our CRC chaplains are providing spiritual care to patients and their loved ones, who have already decided to end their own life through a local MAID process. We sometimes see a disconnect within our Christian communities and churches providing support and guidance for their members  who are struggling with painful, complicated dieseas that cause emotional, mental, physical, financial, social crisis and devestation. Currently we have "no official stance on euthansia," and I see an opportunity for our church to provide deep theological grounding and pastoral guideance for churches and parishioners to uphold the sanctity of life. The evolving and widening of the interpretation, application, and implimentation of MAID legislation is something the church should be concerned about and speak into. 

X