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New B.C. legislature has duty to protect rights

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The right to life is fundamental and universal, not a religious belief
by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB

This is an excerpt from a speech given at the May 11 March for Life Victoria.

 


Photo Caption: Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, was a guest speaker at the March for Life in Victoria, May 11. He called on the provincial and federal governments to provide greater access to palliative care and suicide prevention services. (Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)

We have gathered once again with such strength – and such a number of joyful young people – on the grounds of our legislature to express publicly and peacefully our firm convictions about the inviolable dignity of every human life from conception to its natural end.

It’s fitting that we end our march here, before the seat of government, where our representatives labour to foster the common good of every person in our province.

Those present here, and everyone in B.C. who supports the pro-life movement, look forward to working with the newly elected legislature as it fulfills its obligation of protecting the human rights of every British Columbian.

As we celebrate 150 years of Confederation, let’s remember that the founders of our nation accepted the self-evident truth that life is sacred from its beginning to its natural end, and no state could compromise these moral imperatives dictated by reason. They recognized that no civil institution bestows the right to life. We can only acknowledge that right: uphold it, defend it, and cherish its beauty.

Today this conviction of Canada’s founders remains the stance of the pro-life movement, which includes people of many religions and no religion. Together we all stand in defence of the fundamental rights of the poor, the vulnerable, the oppressed, and the marginalized among us. Many of us also share an additional motivation: our belief in a Loving Creator who entrusts us with being stewards of his gift of life.

Besides reaffirming our long-standing commitment to protect the rights of the unborn, we are now very concerned about the rights of the dying, the disabled, and the distressed. The legalization of euthanasia and medically assisted suicide has raised these new preoccupations.

The experience of countries where these practices are legal – even within narrowly defined limits– has shown that the “right” to so called “medical aid in dying” can very quickly create a culture leading to the obligation to take one’s own life. We are worried that many marginalized people will become victims of suicide now that this practice is legally acceptable.

And so we are calling on the provincial government, along with the federal government, to cooperate on two fronts. First, to provide greater access to and funding for palliative care. Let’s all work together, as a community of compassionate individuals, to comfort the suffering and to accompany the dying. With readily available, high-quality palliative care, no British Columbian need face death in agony or alone.

Second, we are calling on the provincial government to improve and extend suicide prevention services, especially in those communities where such intervention is acutely needed.

Lastly, as pro-lifers we are here on the grounds of the legislature because we want the government’s assurance that no health-care professional or institution will be compelled to act against their conscience or ethical standards in caring for their patients.

No one should ever be forced to do something they consider harmful to a patient. We are calling on our legislators to ensure that all British Columbia citizens and health-care institutions remain free to follow their conscience and to “do no harm” to every person in their care.

It really is wonderful to see you all here today. And I encourage you to keep standing up for the rights of all – but especially of the vulnerable and the marginalized – because protecting them is, quite literally, a matter of life and death. Human rights still matter. May the good Lord bless you!

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 May 2017 10:39  

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