Sunday, January 19, 2014

I can make up my own mind...thank you

The issue of assisted suicide is at the forefront yet again. 
The Supreme Court of Canada is to hear arguments for and against the issue and if we are to corroborate this argument with the recent prostitution verdict; the final act would be in the hands of the government of the day.
   Assisted suicide is not; at least it should not create such societal polarities as it is currently doing so. 
Simply put, should a person have the right to terminate his or her life? 
If we as a society believe that this is an appropriate answer; than assisted-suicide should be made a reality.
Today we are hearing examples of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association stating that terminally ill Canadians are finally given a venue to voice their concerns.
   Why should we limit assisted-suicide only to the terminally ill?
Furthermore the notion that doctor assisted-suicides are not being performed currently within the halls of hospitals across this nation is false.
Professor Arthur Schafer (Department of Philosophy, University of Manitoba) opined in a paper this very fact.
“... a 1998 survey of Canadian nurses working in HIV/AIDS care found that, of the 45 nurses sampled, 26 (57.8%) reported that they knew physicians sometimes took steps to hasten death by voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide.”
As it stands today, this would be a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada. 
“Everyone who counsels a person to commit suicide, or (b) aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.”
    It is time to review this law and make it accessible to those that truly become incapacitated throughout their lives.
We have other court rulings that have debated this issue, calling on further review and mandating that physician-assisted suicide by made available under certain circumstances.
“Non-voluntary euthanasia” is a term described as withholding life saving measures without direct consent.
 If we examine the Latimer case, this is clearly fits the bill.
As for is not so clear. Take for instance a personal issue. Due to a resulting self-inflicted wound my father became a quadriplegic in 1997. Still in the hospital, on life support, the doctors approached the family, discussed options, and in the end ascertained the wishes of the patient himself.
   A determination was given, and after successful dialogue (blinking once for yes, twice for no) my father indicated that his wish was to die.
Fair enough, although if I recall correctly no provisions to the Criminal Code gave either family members, the patient himself, let alone an emergency physician the lawful authority to determine if assisted-suicide was (in this case) admissible; not according to the Criminal Code of Canada.
So...the question begs to be asked....should the physician have been charged.
    Why is it that we prize the sanctity of life above all others? 
Are we guaranteed the right to live no matter what the consequences or does our own abilities to make very personal choices on our own be deemed permissible?
Or do we really need the Supreme Court of Canada to dictate the statute in which Canadians are to conduct themselves in matters of morality?
There should be no absolutism on this matter. 
    We as human beings have no say as to when and where we are to be born in this world; that right rests with a woman for the time being in Canada. 
If we are ready to pronounce as a society that the right of women to choose whether they desire to terminate a pregnancy or not-supersedes any other right to life, than should it not be so and give the right to assisted-suicide to anyone who see fit to end their own lives?
   Of course everyone understands that discriminating against those that cannot successfully commit suicide is a paradox.
Yes abuses can be made, and yes we as a society can argue that opening the door to assisted-suicide may in fact introduce other ethically difficult choices that we would rather totally avoid.
Personally avoidance does not lead to any long term resolutions. In fact I assert the notion that not making assisted-suicide lawful puts at risk those who are desperately seeking aid, or assistance for persons who are affected by illness, disease, and pain.
    The determination as to who gets to make that choice, under what guidelines, and in what manner is yet to be agreed upon.
According to the Leader of the Opposition, Thomas Mulcair the Supreme Court of Canada would invariably refer the matter back to the sitting members of Parliament.
He may be correct, and I would argue that it would further the anguish of those who clearly seek to have assisted-suicide off the books. 
    In addition, I doubt very much that any sort of legislation would reverse the Rodriguez decision; or introduce a new law in favour of such a morally sensitive issue.
Unfortunately the case must reside within the judiciary and as such must make a determination. 
Until then, decisions will be made quietly...DNR (do not resuscitate) will be more common and future last will and testaments will incorporate measures to be followed under certain life ending scenarios.
    Those who fall in between the cracks will suffer. Those who do not care one way or another have little time to think on anything other than themselves. 
The fact remains we may all face during our lives, a difficult choice to make if we become terminally ill, or we find ourselves unable to live within our own code.
    It reminds me of a scene from Lonesome Dove where Augustus tells Woodrow to let him be....and die with one leg...instead of living a life as a cripple.
It was the same for my father, and in the end, no one should make that decision other than ourselves.

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