Doctor-assisted dying: Why religious conscience must be part of the debate

The Globe and Mail

Lorna Dueck

The competing rights of freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and access to physician-assisted death are at an impasse in Canada. When the Supreme Court last year struck down Criminal Code prohibitions on doctor-assisted death, the issue of conscience rights jumped urgently into the national discussion. A religiously informed conscience complicates things further, and thousands of health-care professionals and hundreds of religiously based health-care institutions are demanding that their Charter rights be protected.

If the recommendations from the parliamentary committee for new legislation are accepted and approved by the June 6 deadline, Canada would be by far the most liberal country in the world for medical assistance in dying. It would also become the most repressive on conscience rights, because the committee recommended that conscientious objectors refer death-seeking patients to another doctor or health-care facility – something that many people informed by a sense of duty to God and neighbour cannot do. . . [Full text]


Why conscience (or lack of it) is in the news

 Globe and Mail

Lorna Dueck

How about a conversation on what’s happening to the human conscience? Pick any variety of headline these days and you’ll often discover that the news behind it happened because somebody’s conscience evaporated.

How could the consciences of 13 young men smart enough to navigate Dalhousie University’s dentistry school not awaken to the way they were denigrating women? How could these students, posting on a social network with a billion users, not care that judgment was imminent? Why was there just one whistle-blower among them?

The best or worst of our collective conscience is usually behind any story that goes viral today. Who is the guardian, the advocate, the instructor, the guide for our conscience? Family, social norms, religion, school and the media are all systems that come quickly to mind when I think about conscience-setting. We need to value sources that teach us to care about conscience, because conscience will always affect how we treat each other. . . [Full Text]