(November 23, 2018, 2:36 PM EST) — Do we need to make Canadian laws easier for people to commit suicide when they are terminally ill?
Audrey Parker, who took her own life in late October, thought so. The 57-year-old Haligonian and former image consultant had advocated that the two-year old assisted-suicide law be amended to allow the terminally ill to pre-approve assistance ending their lives.
Ms. Parker is quoted as stressing that the law had to be changed because anyone approved for medically assisted death must be conscious and mentally sound at the moment they grant their final consent for lethal injection.
She pointed out that she would have been denied her wish to end her life with medical assistance if she had been incapacitated by her advanced illness of the pain medication she was taking.
“Dying is a messy business,” she said.
Should parliamentarians accede to her request dying will become all that messier. The Counsel of Canadian Academics is submitting three reports to a parliamentary subcommittee studying the matter this December in favour of the issue.
Requiring a terminally ill person be conscious and of sound mind when consent is given was included in the legislation to protect the vulnerable. Allowing for the terminally ill to pre-approve their euthanasia opens the doors for the archetypical greedy children encouraging mom or dad to hand over their inheritance earlier rather than later. It precludes the dying from taking advantage of medical advances. A few years ago, AIDS was a death sentence; now people can live out their natural lives. It would not be moral to follow a person’s lethal instructions made yesterday when a cure is available today.
This is not the only assault on euthanasia fighting for easier access. Despite the public’s sympathy over the senseless and sad suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade this year, assisted suicide advocates to want the existing law to include chronic depression.
Listening to the public discussion on euthanasia requires a good session of mental flossing afterward.
There is no “Right to Die” as advocates often are fond of saying. Suicide was never a crime in Canada. Asking another person to help you exposed that person to culpable homicide. The Supreme Court of Canada’s Carter v. Canada 2016 SCC 4 decision eliminated that exposure by carving out an exception to allow adults with grievous and irremediable conditions to have physician-assisted suicides.
Ms. Parker would have been at liberty: To ask for help in committing suicide; to choose the time and place to end her life; and, to choose her means.
She passed peacefully in her own home by her own hand. And if she was concerned that her disease physically debilitated her from taking her own life and physically prevented her from any form of communicating her instructions, she could have arranged her affairs to include a “Do Not Resuscitate Order” or any other preventative directive that would have prolonged her life.
George Grant, one of Canada’s and the world’s deepest thinkers, located the origin of this debate as a problem of modernity. Technology gives us the ability to shape our world, but it cannot tell us whether it is good to do so. By limiting ourselves to asking whether we can, those on the side of progress align themselves with the side that answers yes.
In so doing, he wrote, technology becomes tyrannical, coming cozily and on cat’s feet “with the denial of the rights of the aged, the denial of the rights of the mentally retarded, the insane, and the economically less-privileged, it will come with the denial of rights to all those who cannot defend themselves.”
This article was originally published at Lawyer’s Daily on Friday, November 23, 2018 @ 2:36 PM | By Sam Goldstein.