Doctor-assisted suicide

Today, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of doctor-assisted suicide for people with terminal illnesses.

Opponents to the ruling fear it will lead to a decrease in the quality of palliative care for patients who don’t want to commit suicide. And one prominent disability rights activist I know fears that people with severe disabilities — such as those who become quadriplegic — might opt for the suicide option or be urged to do so.

Surprisingly (to me), a poll on Montreal’s CTV News channel tonight found the majority of people — 57% — are opposed to doctor-assisted suicide.

Personally, I am in favour of it. If I became terminally ill, I would prefer to die a dignified death at a point where the suffering would be unbearable or where I might lose my faculties.

But some people feel we must let our lives end naturally or even do everything medically possible to prolong them.

What do you think? How do you feel about the issue, both personally, and on a macro level: was the Supreme Court ruling a good one, in your opinion? Or should society — no matter where you live — have the right to deny people doctor-assisted suicide?

— Jillian

9 thoughts on “Doctor-assisted suicide

  1. No answer here, but for what it’s worth…

    I spent years transporting and getting to know a lot of elderly and dismal folks. The desire to escape their fate was uppermost in a lot of their conversations. I saw a lot of miserable people trapped in a system with no option to escape.

    Then my turn came. After years of surgeries, I was given the choice of dying in the hospital or at home, with no guarantee that I’d even survive the ride home. After seven months in Hospice Care they kicked me out because I refused to die. Believe me, as I got sicker and sicker I (an atheist) prayed to any gods that might be listening to please let me escape the pain. Give me death, please. Didn’t happen (see what happens when you pray to gods you don’t believe in?).

    Five and a half years later I’m still kicking and enjoying life, though somewhat limited from what it was. Odd turn of fate. And I’m still deemed ‘terminal’!

    Would it have been better for all involved had I had the option to end it (I WOULD have!)? I don’t know. I do know I’m happy to be alive now.

    I also knew one of Dr. Kevorkian’s last patients, and she and her family were very comfortable with her choice. Vastly different circumstances, though it was weird to say goodbye to her on her way to death.

    As I said, I have no answers, but feel that the option to leave this world should somehow be available to those who seek it. Perhaps with a lot of counseling and a clear picture of their future, but an option nonetheless.

    ‘Freedom’ is an easy concept to toss about, but becomes very complicated when the freedom to die comes up. Freedom to sacrifice oneself for others is applauded, but the freedom to determine one’s own fate suddenly becomes a different issue; ‘selfishness’, according to other people’s ideas of what is ‘right’ according to THEIR beliefs.

    Excuse me, but it’s MY life to do with as I choose, beginning to end. ‘SELFish’ means to think of oneself first, and there is no better time to be selfish than when one is in pain and suffering. Angie taught me that in my hard times; “It’s YOUR life, don’t worry about us!”. Let the suffering people go, they deserve it.

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  2. As a suicide survivor, I can’t help but believe that no good can ever come from any form of suicide, whether self-inflicted or “assisted”. My wife committed suicide in 1997, and that was the most destructive event that could ever happen to a family. I have written two articles about suicide in my blog: “No Easy Answers”, and “The Faces Of Suicide”.

    Yes, I understand the desire to “die with dignity”, however there is no dignity in death. My father died on October 1, 2013 after a long illness, and being in a skilled-nursing facility the his last three years of life, but had someone decided that “he is at his lowest point” and assisted his death, they would have deprived both mom and I of whatever time we had left with him. By the time he did pass, mom was ready, and when the time came, she had already said her “Good bye’s” and was ready to let him go to meet his maker. I was also ready to let him go in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Steve.

      A newscaster tonight said that in one country where doctor-assisted suicide has existed for a while, only one in five terminally ill people have chosen that route. So, ultimately, the decision is left to the patient, though I suppose some people are concerned that patients might be pressured by family or medical practitioners to choose suicide.

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      1. Assisted Suicide is a bit harsh. Suicide is a psychiatric cry for help. I prefer to think that if I were in intractable pain with an illness that would kill me in a few weeks or months that my doctor can prescribe a barbiturate that I might not wake from. That’s not suicide, that’s compassion.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I believe it is a blessing to be released from a world of pain with no chance of recovery. I’ve seen one dear friend and my father in great pain that was never going to be lessened. I did pray that if the pain were to continue for them to pass. It was a blessing for all, though difficult for me to go through it, but it was easier for the patient.

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