An average 68 per cent of Canadians favour the legalisation of assisted suicide, but the Court of Appeal in British Columbia has just rejected it. Read more here.
The arguments for and against assisted dying, assisted suicide, dying with dignity, call it want you will, will be with us for some time to come, but the outcome is already perfectly evident: in the end we’ll buy it. The debate we’re in now is very close in kind to the debate older readers remember from their youth about abortion. The big difference is that, aesthetically, letting old and very ill people depart in peace is much more ‘acceptable’ than aborting foetuses.
In response to the recent setback, the Canadian National Post published letters for, against and don’t know. They illuminate the arguments well. Here’s a selection:
* There is no difference between refusing to give pain-killing drugs to patients dying in agony and refusing to assist them in ending their lives when these drugs are no longer effective. Both are unconscionable acts of prolonging torture. Our fellow citizens have no authority to decide when we give birth, nor when we die. Our lives are our own, and when or how we decide to die is up to us.
* Sane citizens must be given the right to die controlled and dignified deaths. If religious people wish to prolong the suffering of their loved ones in some perverted acknowledgement of the “gift of life,” fine, but do not impose that tenet on the rest of us.
* The average life expectancy in 1908 was 48 years old. So the idea of living beyond our best-before date is a relatively new dilemma for the human race. I use the word “dilemma” because except for the fortunate few who will one day fall asleep and never wake up, most of us will experience a long, painful, debilitating, demoralizing, humiliating drawn-out demise. It’s time to rethink the end of one’s life.
* From legally assisted suicide, there is one short step to legal murder demanded by survivors who are not up to caring or even tolerating having to deal emotionally with death and dying.
* Yes, we all die, and the wages of sin is death. We do not want to suffer much while we are dying. But are not our doctors efficiently trained to control pain? God teaches us what dying with dignity means and it does not mean to kill oneself. It means to trust His promises and to lean on His Son for the forgiveness of our sins and in Him die in peace. That’s dying with dignity.
* We cannot just accept someone’s death wish and agree that their lives are no longer worth living. Instead, we must ease their suffering, provide comfort, and restore their sense of dignity and value.
* I am wary of any law that makes it easier for somebody to kill another person.
* It is time for the dying or suffering to accept the final burden of their own demise and not open the Pandora’s Box of state-assisted suicide. How long would the choice be theirs and not someone else’s?
* I can imagine that if I were in excruciating pain from illness and the prognosis was dire, I’d want the right to be able to end my life — and quickly. However, that is not my situation and so it’s disingenuous of me to presume that I’d actually know what I’d want. This debate should only take place between people who are facing an imminent end to their lives, as well as their loved ones who are watching them suffer. Armchair philosophers should take their wise thoughts elsewhere.