Conference discusses issue of end-of-life decisions
Rabbi Moshe Goldman stressed Judaism’s focus on justice and fulfilling the directives of the faith.
“It is like a festival of great ideas,” said event co-ordinator Nebeel Rana.
Last Sunday, the latest iteration of the conference returned to Hagey Hall at the University of Waterloo after several years in Guelph. The main sponsor and organizer of the event is The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada, a national group part of the moderate Islamic movement by the same name.
Each year, the conference focuses on a particular theme, and this year its topic of choice was titled, “End-of-Life Decisions: Faith-Based Perspectives.” This decision was heavily influenced by the Canadian Supreme Court’s decision last year that ruled preventing consenting, competent individuals from ending their own lives was unconstitutional. The court gave the Canadian government over a year to create new legislation, which the Trudeau administration successfully enacted on July 15.
The much-debated law requires certain criteria be met to be eligible for a doctor-assisted suicide, including voluntary consent, that the patient be in “an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability,” and that they have not been influenced by external pressures to make the decision.
For religious groups and people in Canada, these new rules can have a multitude of implications and can even directly contradict their beliefs. With just over four months to grapple with the law, Sunday’s conference seemed particularly timely.
The day itself featured a panel discussion from nine different faiths and philosophies: aboriginal spirituality, Baha’i faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and humanism, the latter including atheists and agnostics. These nine belief systems were represented by speakers from a variety of backgrounds.
While it certainly was a thoughtful and engaging discussion, the speakers had differing perspectives on how these end-of-life decisions ought to be made. Dr. Gail Allan, who works with the United Church and represented Christianity, emphasized compassion and said that sanctity of life was not absolute.
On the other hand, Judaism’s… read more at source.