Steven Fletcher: Assisted suicide means ’embracing life’

Listen: Cormac MacSweeney speaks with the Conservative MP about his private member’s bills on assisted suicide


Steven Fletcher had an accident when he was 23 that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Now the Conservative MP has introduced two private member’s bills related to assisted suicide, which are here and here. Cormac MacSweeney, Parliament Hill Bureau Chief for CityNews and Rogers Radio, spoke with Fletcher about assisted suicide and his experience recovering from that 1996 accident.

“There were times when I’d feel that I was drowning in my own phlegm,” he told MacSweeney. “It’s very painful, you’re totally sleep-deprived, and it is a very difficult way to exist. I wouldn’t wish it on any living thing—human or not.”

Fletcher asked why we would want to put people through such suffering.

“There are people who have lived full lives, who are in hopeless situations and all that remains is pain and suffering and heartache and terror,” he said, adding that he would encourage Canadian families to have frank discussions about assisted suicide.

A condensed version of this interview was included in this week’s edition of our podcast, Maclean’s on the Hill. Listen to MacSweeney’s full interview with Fletcher here:

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Steven Fletcher: Assisted suicide means ’embracing life’

  1. During my 16 years in England, I spent three years (1995-98) working as a caregiver – living with and caring for several elderly people suffering from advanced dementia. I saw first-hand how this disease leaves its victims trapped in a truly terrifying, living hell – with no way out except fading slowly and somewhat agonizingly into a merciful death. I often felt my charges were closer to anxious zombies than human beings – and did often wonder about the ethics of prolonging life as long as possible under those circumstances.

    My time as a carer left me decidedly unwilling to experience that kind of ‘life’ myself. As such, I can say hand on heart that the day I’m diagnosed with dementia is the day I start making moves to check out. When it comes that kind of illness, I’m going to quit while I’m ahead.

    In fact, maybe we should be a little more like Latin America – where people appear to embrace and celebrate death rather than attempting to ignore it and lock it away behind closed doors, as westerners seem inclined to do?

    Raising awareness
    This year, I self-published The Carer, a short e-novel based on my time as a live-in geriatric nurse. Described as a “gritty urban thriller with a social conscience”, The Carer offers a “Faustian tale of elder abuse, patricide by proxy and the corrosive effects of power.” You can buy The Carer for USD0.99 from Amazon and all other major ebook retailers.

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