Resources to Understand Physician Assisted Suicide

During the July Renewal Café, it was suggested that the issue of Physician Assisted Suicide/Death (also known as Medical Assistance in Dying) might be the emerging issue for evangelical Presbyterians. The tone of our Café conversation backed it up.

The church appears to be deeply divided. On the one hand, otherwise faithful congregants and elders see the deliberate ending of life as a pastoral act to end suffering. In the words of one faithful congregant I spoke to recently, “I think it’s wonderful.” At the same time, when I raised the issue with some elders, they were mortified that the church might actually support the practice.

Physician Assisted Suicide is the traditional name of the practice and was the title of the discussion document produced by the PCC in 2017. The name was officially downplayed at the 2021 General Assembly and relegated to history in 2022. At the 2023 GA, there was wide support and acceptance of assisted suicide and a call for a new discussion paper and pastoral guide.

There is no law against the use of language. So I will continue to refer to it by its most accurate name. The issue for me is about the sanctity of life, from conception to a natural death.

During the Café there was a desire to know more about the issue, particularly from the pro-life perspective. I appreciate the content suggested by Fred Lane.

If you have additional materials, feel free to share them via


 A sub-committee of the Committee on Church Doctrine produced an excellent study guide titled “Physician Assisted Suicide” which was received by General Assembly in 2017 for discussion purposes. It’s now considered an historic document and cannot be found at Subsequent assemblies have directed the committee to develop a new discussion document with the name Medical Assistance in Dying. The 2017 guide and a list of recent developments can be found here.


 When Is It Right To Die  –  Joni Eareckson Tada

Whose Life Is It Anyway? – Paul Chamberlain (PhD) Prof. at Trinity Western University, Langley B.C.

Final Wishes – Paul Chamberlain – This is a fictional account of a doctor asked by a best friend to help him commit Physician Assisted Suicide.

Walking With God through Pain and Suffering – Timothy Keller

Suffering Is Never for Nothing –  Elisabeth Elliot


 Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops remains firmly opposed to assisted death: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

The Gospel Coalition published an excellent blog from a believing physician: When MAID Goes to Church

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada does not oppose assisted suicide. Her position appears to be similar to many in the PCC: Church should not oppose MAID law, primate says

The Plough, which publishes from an Anabaptist perspective, has high praise for the PCC’s 2017 discussion document. Where Are the Churches in Canada’s Euthanasia Experiment?

Over the past seven years, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has published a freely downloadable Euthanasia and Palliative Care Study Guide and 100 articles on the subject.

The Christian Medical and Dental Association of Canada has resources on Conscience in Healthcare. Speakers are also available.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Compassionate Care Canada.

MAID in Canada: A Multidisciplinary Conversation about End-of-Life Issues with David Guretzki, Kristin Harris, and Paul Blair”, in Didaskalia, published by Providence Theological Seminary, Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada.


5 thoughts on “Resources to Understand Physician Assisted Suicide

  1. I have found in my congregations that people who have experienced loved ones or friends choosing Assisted Suicide the predominant feeing is awkwardness, uncertainty, cushioned in the “don’t want to say anything bad about it or their decision.” Glad you’re looking into it and resources available. . . My concern is sanctity of life including the value of life, our ability to serve/bring glory to God in all stages/seasons. If we agree death is the answer then we agree this life has nothing left to contribute. My other concern is how in this response to terminal, critical illness, places limitations on God and his impact on the individual, forgetting his profound and intimate work in suffering.

  2. I agree this is an important issue. But it is much much wider than the frail elderly and the terminally ill. It is becoming a means of capital punishment in Canadian penitentaries. 40% of those under 40 years old in Canada believe in MAID as a way of dealing with the depression poverty brings. The Indigenous Community is deeply worried about the impact on teenagers in their communities. If this is something Renewal Fellowship is going address please speak about the bigger context.
    Second, the approach needs to affirm life, not attack MAID. It needs to leave MAID as a denier of life — not those concerned about MAID as a denier of choice.
    Third, the church needs to speak powerfully to hope for the depressed and the anxious, and committing itself to being community for the depressed and the anxious.

  3. Wow. Just wow. Hard to believe that in the space of just six years an excellent work such as the one produced can move from acceptance by the church to needing to completely re-do the work from an opposite position. It must break the hearts of those who drafted it such as Chris O’Reilly, Myrna Talbot and Maureen Ord, all of whom have been friends and whose faith is inspirational to us. It reaffirms for us that sex is not the only reason we were led out of the PCC. I’m grieved to read this. Good for you and RF to be unafraid to open these conversations and seek to represent a life-affirming position.

  4. Even some funeral homes offer MAID now – for convenience! I highly recommend the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, and its sister group Compassionate Care Canada. Alex Schadenburg of London heads both – assists those struggling at end of life – and educates every way he can about medically assisted suicide. I understand why you say Physician Assisted Suicide for sure. Let’s get rid of God’s greatest creation: man. The devil’s plan – to make it seem right. Thanks for standing for life!

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