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April 21, 2016
Sacha Sewhdat

On April 14, 2016, the Liberal Government of Canada tabled new legislation on Physician Assisted Death.

We spoke to Dr. Ian Gentles, author of “It’s Not That Simple: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Today.”  Dr. Gentles is a professor at Tyndale University.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. To listen to the full interview, click the link below.

Sacha@CONTEXT: What are your thoughts on the lack of protections for conscience rights?

Dr. Ian Gentles: Well, I think that’s very serious and I hope that parliament will redress that lack of conscience rights. I was just talking to a specialist at Mt. Sinai hospital yesterday and he said that they canvassed every doctor in the hospital and not one of them was willing to perform assisted suicide.

Requiring doctors who don’t want to do assisted suicide to refer to another one who will, makes them complicit; it forces them to violate their conscience. Even more serious, I think, is the requirement that hospitals and palliative care institutions cooperate with the law against their founding principles which are to preserve human life.  

I don’t know what the Catholic hospitals are going to do. Will they defy the law? Will they be shut down? 

Sacha@CONTEXT: What has changed in the public psyche to make us more accepting of ideas like assisted suicide?

Dr. Ian Gentles: Well, I think more and more, without realizing it, we’re embracing the culture of death. It’s never acknowledged publicly but, in the back of a lot of people's minds is the thought that if all these people who really don’t want to go on living can have those lives ended, than that can save a lot of health dollars.

Once this law really gets going, people will not simply be exercising their right to assisted dying they will be actively encouraged and pressured into accepting assisted suicide. This is already happening in Oregon and Washington where a large number of the people who apply for assisted suicide give as a major reason that they don’t want to be a burden to others. It’s not really about individual rights, it’s about stepping out of the way and saving money and doing what your relatives want you to do; what your doctor wants you to do, or what the hospital wants you to do.

Sacha@CONTEXT: When we talk about death, people say they would like to know how and when and why.  Maybe, in knowing, we might prepare for death and consider our own mortality.  What’s wrong with that?

Dr. Ian Gentles: I think we’re faced with hyper-individualism or ‘the triumph of the will’. People have the idea that they have to have total control over their lives and if they don’t have total control over their lives and when they die, that somehow this is a violation of their rights. But there are all sorts of things we don’t have control over which I believe we should accept with a certain amount of passivity. 

We don’t have control over when we’re born or who our parents are or the colour of our skin, our eyes, or how tall we are. There are all sorts of things we can’t control in this life and we just accept that.

Sacha@CONTEXT: Jesus is a god of mercy. A lot of people consider death in times of great pain to be a mercy.  How is choosing that in conflict with the teachings of Jesus?

Dr. Ian Gentles: It’s because we are saying we know better than He is as to when we should die. It’s hubris, it’s pride.  It’s a kind of insistence that we have to have the final say in everything rather than leaving things up to God. Yes, Jesus is merciful and I hope He will show us all mercy for the various wrongs we commit but I’m pretty sure that Jesus is on the side of life and that He’s against hastening death.


There are many problems with euthanasia, but the main ones are that it is morally wrong and it devalues human life, the safeguards are not completely effective, and the slippery-slope result. Instead of legalizing euthanasia , Canadians should be taught about the intrinsic value of human life, educate health professionals and public about the risks inherent in legalizing euthanasia, and invest in resources to help deal with the emotional stresses that can cause a terminally ill patient to desire a quick and painless death. Christians should speak out against the evolutionary mindset that is behind this legislation. If humans are just evolved animals and there is no afterlife then euthanasia probably wold be the kind thing to do, but that is not the case. Some facts - 500 people in the Netherlands are euthanized involuntarily each year. In Belgium, the rate of involuntary and non-voluntary deaths by euthanasia is 3 times higher than the Netherlands. A study in Flanders reported 12% of the cases, a nurse performed the euthanasia - these are just a few cases of the slippery slope.
April 23, 2016 | Ruth Lilly

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