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Medical Assistance in Dying: Is it Compatible With Religion?

March 19th, 2024

One of the most contentious issues today is whether religious medical professionals should be forced to provide gender transition care.
Many religions have specific laws against suicide, but Medical Assistance in Dying is becoming a part of palliative care around the world.

Medical assistance in dying, or “MAID,” is becoming an increasingly common practice among developed nations, and it is beginning to come into conflict with major religions. Although one might argue that MAID is humane, it is still suicide in its most basic form. Some religious leaders have embraced this, while others have refused to participate or endorse the practice in any way. This issue is further complicated due to Christianity’s long-standing association with hospitals and medical treatment across the Western world. 

Archdiocese of Montreal Pushes Back Against Medical Assistance In Dying

Canada has implemented one of the most controversial MAID programs in the Western world, and medically assisted suicide is perhaps easier to achieve in Canada than in any other nation. Canada theoretically allows people to get assistance in dying for non-terminal illnesses – something that is not possible in many other nations that have implemented MAID programs. 

In addition, doctors openly offer MAID to patients who have not actually requested it in Canada – another practice that is strictly forbidden in other Western nations. This is leading to a controversial situation, as some Canadian patients have requested MAID for non-terminal mental health issues. Some patients even admit to requesting MAID because of poverty – and in the absence of any medical issues whatsoever. 

As this controversy continues, the Archdiocese of Montreal has sued the province of Quebec in Canada. The province requires all palliative care homes to offer MAID – including those that are affiliated with religions. As the Catholic church operates many of these palliative care homes in Montreal, the potential for conflict is clear. 

A serious legal dispute seems inevitable, with neither side willing to back down. Various activists support the government’s stance – claiming that religious views have no place in the medical system. On the other hand, many Catholics believe that the requirement to offer suicide violates their religious freedoms and their freedom of conscience. 

Which Religions Ban Suicide?

Many religions have specific laws against suicide, and you might say that this is one of the few things the global religions can actually agree on. Most Catholics are aware of how their religion deals with suicide, and it is said that those who kill themselves go to hell. The same basic philosophy is followed by Islam and Hinduism. A particularly common theme is the ban on burial rites for those who take their own lives. Orthodox Judaism bans suicide and views it as a sin. 

But perhaps the most notable issue regarding suicide is its conflation with murder. In many religions, suicide is exactly the same thing as murder. In other words, you commit the religious “crime” of murder if you kill yourself. The basic premise is that your body is not your own and that it “belongs” to God. Many religious leaders believe that by killing yourself, you are committing a crime against one of God’s creations. 

What’s Next for Medical Assistance in Dying?

At the end of the day, suicide is always a controversial issue. Which right is more important: The right to take your own life or the right to oppose suicide? As with many religious questions, this one might be impossible to answer. However, it is worth mentioning that the Catholic church oversees about one in seven hospital beds in the United States, so there is a delicate balance between freedom of religion and medical care. Something tells us that this debate is not over, so you should continue reading the Universal Life Church’s legal blog stay up to date on the latest developments.

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