VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CNS) -- Archbishop
J. Michael Miller of Vancouver said the British Columbia provincial government must
stop attempts to force hospices and care homes to provide euthanasia.
Provincial health authorities are "making
a serious error" in trying to coerce caregivers -- "committed to
making the final stages of life for the elderly, sick, and suffering meaningful
and dignified" -- into supporting assisted suicide, the archbishop said in
a Feb. 22 statement.
"Assisted suicide stands in stark
contrast" to the care that hospices offer, and none should be compelled to
provide it, he said.
More than 2,000 Canadians have died of
assisted suicide since the practice was made legal in June 2016. Archbishop
Miller said that points to a dire need for better end-of-life care, not
increased access to a lethal injection.
"If the elderly, sick, and suffering in
our population feel that euthanasia is their best option, it means we as a
society and as individuals are letting them down," he wrote.
"In nearly every case, we can provide
adequate pain management to comfort patients. But what about the lonely, the
abandoned, and those who see themselves as a burden to others or society? How
do we address their needs and assure them life has meaning?"
By providing "true compassion," he
said, answering his own question. "We are called to suffer with the
sufferer, not to end his or her life."
Archbishop Miller is the latest voice to
join many health care workers, volunteers, community leaders and concerned
citizens calling foul over a recent announcement from the regional Fraser
Health Authority that hospices in its jurisdiction would be required to provide
assisted suicide on site if a patient was qualified. Currently, hospices can
opt to transfer patients who want to die to a different location for the lethal