Legalizing euthanasia is not simple, and it is not safe
An interesting article was written by Judith Timson and published on October 3, 2013 in the Toronto Star under the title: Its time to talk about dying.
This article is particularly interesting when one considers the ambiguous language in the Quebec government euthanasia bill (Bill 52).
Timson's article opens with a narrative concerning her 89 year-old friend Zelda who has attended several "death café" meetings. Timson then writes about Dr Donald Low's video in which the prominent infectious disease specialist called for Canada to legalize assisted suicide.
Timson notes (disapprovingly) that Canada's federal government has no intention of legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide.
This is where the article becomes interesting, Timson states:
Bring up legalized assisted suicide and everyone chimes in. “It’s really not that complex” says an acquaintance. “You go to a doctor, get certified as both sane and terminal and you get a prescription you can take when you’re ready to die.”
I believe that if you are dying and almost certainly unlikely to recover, you should be able to decide when and how to die. But my own family’s experience has complicated this view.
When my mother was 70, she lay seriously ill in intensive care, intubated, in an induced coma, with a jet ventilator breathing for her. The nurses would rub her feet and say to each other, “why are they keeping this poor woman alive?”
My mom answered that question: she fully recovered, lived for 20 more wonderful years, saw her grandchildren grow up, and became a volunteer at that hospital, where the nurses told her about their conversation, marvelling at the miracle of her recovery.
Life is a miracle, but so is death in a way. It’s also inconvenient, or not there when you want or need it. My husband’s grandmother Nanny used to say, before she died at 96, “I think God has forgotten I’m down here.” Despite that, she had a fierce will to live.
Exposing Vulnerable People proves that where euthanasia is legal, some doctors will decide to take the law in their own hands. Since the reporting procedure is always placed in the hands of the doctor who carries out the euthanasia or assisted suicide death, therefore these acts, that are outside of the law, become hidden crimes.
Reprinted with permission from Alex Schadenberg's blog.