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Thoughts on Assisted Suicide

This story in the National Post talks about how quadriplegic Conservative MP and one-time Cabinet Minister Steven Fletcher argues assisted physician-assisted suicide should be an option in Canada, this on the heels of Dr. Donald Low, who recently passed away from a brain tumour, arguing the same thing.

A very tough issue. A large majority of us in society who own pets won’t think twice about putting them to sleep and ending their suffering from a hopeless disease or illness or accident (I was one of those recently with my cat Silence), but we hesitate to allow the same to terminally ill people (who have their own free will and choice, unlike our pets), to have the freedom of choice to make that decision.

That doesn’t mean to say I support it. On the contrary, I wrestle with that same moral dilemma that I just described of that apparent contradiction. On the other hand, I’ve had very old relatives of mine that gave “Do not resuscitate” orders if they fell deathly ill, which isnt far off from it.. tho in this case it’s the family requesting the physicians do nothing to prolong the inevitable.

In their condition, I had no objections to them not wanting to linger.. or us trying to force them to linger. A tough question I have no answer for.

4 comments to Thoughts on Assisted Suicide

  • KC

    I agree with MoS and disagree that it is really a “tough question”. The only valid objection to assisted suicide that can be overcome by ensuring that there is no undue influence and that it is the informed decision. Safeguards, such as those used in Oregon are adequate for those purposes.

  • MoS

    It’s only a “tough question” when the narrative is conveniently framed.

    I have spent a good bit of time looking into Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” law. It allows the terminally ill access to life-ending drugs. Your doctor must first conclude you are in the final six months of life. The doctors reports and supporting tests are submitted with the patient’s application.

    The patient gets counselling and then goes on to an interview with three doctors who assess the individual’s condition and ensure the patient isn’t being pressured or coerced in any way and truly wants this relief.

    That is followed up by a second interview session some time later. If the individual is approved, the physician is authorized to write a prescription for the necessary drugs. This is where it becomes truly interesting.

    A good many patients who get these prescriptions never get them filled. Of those who do, a good many never take the drugs. All the process did for these people is relieve them from the fear that death could present excruciating, unbearable misery.

    You know you’re dying. You know that death is imminent. You just get to die without fearing the worst. That allows you to die with dignity whether you wind up taking the drugs or not. And, stripped bare, that is what opponents of this procedure – the religious nutjobs and vested interests – want to deny others, that humane death. How monstrous is that?

    The Oregon experience has been the subject of considerable research and investigation and all the nonsense about old people being pressured to off themselves has been found to be just that – nonsense.

    • Some folks have more moral and ethical and religious dilemmas to battle when we wrestle with this then others (said without criticism of your and for that matter KC’s position). If you and other folks do not wrestle with it, then I applaud you. I wish it were so easy for me, and I’m not the only one who wrestles with it – even as a liberal and a fairly liberal Christian.

      • KC

        If you don’t like assisted suicide you don’t have to have one or give assistance to someone who requests one. But don’t stand in the way of those of us who are not constrained by religious beliefs who want to have dignity in death or to give our loved ones dignity in death. That is the “liberal” way, Christian or otherwise.

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