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 email@example.com.
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 Presbyterian.ca. 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.
The Gospel Coalition published an excellent blog from a believing physician.
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada does not oppose assisted suicide. Her position appears to be similar to many in the PCC.
The Plough, which publishes from an Anabaptist perspective, has high praise for the PCC’s 2017 discussion document.
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.