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Canadian Catholic group speaks out against proposed assisted suicide bill
If passed, Bill C-14 would legalize medically assisted suicide for some Canadians suffering from a terminal disease. - photo by Kelsey Dallas
Catholic leaders in Canada spoke out against a proposed medically assisted suicide bill on Thursday, arguing that it puts vulnerable communities at risk.

"Bill C-14, no matter how it may be amended, is an affront to human dignity, an erosion of human solidarity, and a danger to all vulnerable persons particularly the aged, disabled, infirm and sick who so often find themselves isolated and marginalized," the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in a statement posted to its website.

It's common for faith leaders to lead the charge against medically assisted suicide legislation, the Deseret News reported in February. Many of the world's religions, including Catholicism, Islam and Judaism, prohibit medically assisted suicide, "arguing that the timing of death is a choice only God can make," the article noted.

However, in Canada, as in the U.S., citizens often support euthanasia in spite of official church teachings. Nearly eight in 10 Canadians (77 percent) support medically assisted suicide, according to The Toronto Star.

Bill C-14 was sent to Parliament on Thursday, but it's been anticipated for more than a year. The bill responds to a February 2015 Canadian Supreme Court ruling that struck down the country's previous ban on medically assisted suicide.

If passed, the "bill would set a minimum age of 18 and require a 15-day 'reflection period' to avoid a quick decision after a dark diagnosis. And patients must be eligible for Canada's national health care, a rule that would preclude foreigners from going to Canada to end their lives," USA Today reported.

The legislation does not address complications created by mental illness or whether or not people can sign an advanced directive related to medically assisted suicide, according to Huffington Post Canada.

"The justice minister says the government will study those issues if the bill is passed," the article noted.

In the U.S., medically assisted suicide is an end-of-life option in Washington, Oregon, Vermont and Montana. It will become legal in California in June, USA Today reported. Additionally, the practice is legal in some other countries around the world, including Germany, Japan, Colombia and the Netherlands.
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