The Commons: ‘This is not an easy issue’

Francine Lalonde: “We should not refuse them the right to die with dignity”

The Scene. It being 5:55pm, the Speaker moved on to time allotted for private members’ business, specially the resumption of debate on bill C-384. Approximately 250 of the 277 members, gathered previously to vote on a pair of motions, collected their belongings and departed for dinner.

The Speaker waited a few minutes for the House to settle, then called on the Bloc’s Francine Lalonde to restate herself. Clutching her notes with both hands, she stood and explained that C-384, her proposal, sought to amend the Criminal Code for the purposes of decriminalizing euthanasia or medically assisted suicide.

Ms. Lalonde introduced her first bill in this regard nearly five years ago. Her latest effort, C-384, was first read into the record last May. In the patience-demanding way of private members’ bills—an hour assigned each day to such business, bills rotating on an order of precedence determined by random draw—C-384 reached second reading and received its first hour of debate on a Friday afternoon last October.

Of this second hour, coming five months later, Ms. Lalonde was allotted the first 15 minutes. Punctuating her points with slight fist pumps, pausing periodically to sip from a glass of water, she half-pleaded with, half-lectured, her colleagues.

She referred them to various medical authorities. She pointed to the National Assembly of Quebec and its current study of the subject. Scanning the room to look at her counterparts directly, she attempted to reason. “Who can say with complete assurance, who can say you can’t help someone who is experiencing intolerable suffering?” she asked. “Can we call this a murder? Can we call this a crime?”

She raised questions of quality and control of life. She suggested we confront the fact that medically assisted demise might already be a reality. Putting down her notes, she spoke passionately. “We should not refuse them the right to die with dignity,” she said.

It was on this very idea that Conservative James Lunney stood next to oppose the bill. Citing Supreme Court precedent, he asserted the “dignity of life”—Ms. Lalonde and he speaking of the same thing, but agreeing on nothing.

Lalonde warned that religion must not influence the law. Liberal Paul Szabo warned that her bill would undermine the entire medical system. Conservative David Sweet warned of a slippery and serious slope ahead. He stated his respect for all who engage this debate, but questioned the language, lawfulness and ultimate result of Ms. Lalonde’s bill. “Is it really up to us to decide?” he asked at one point.

Mr. Szabo stood again, this time to expand on his concerns, both philosophical and legislative. “This bill is seriously flawed, inoperable and irreparable,” he said. Rambling somewhat, he predicted inevitable mistakes and spoke too of the proverbial slippery slope. “The thought of taking a life for any reason is incompatible with the Canadian reality,” he ventured. “Each day is a gift,” he concluded.

A smattering of spectators wandered in and out of the galleries. On the floor of the Commons, Ms. Lalonde listened to the discussion, periodically shrugging in frustration.

After Mr. Szabo, it was then Joe Comartin’s turn, and the NDP justice critic proceeded in his way, carefully and logically. Palliative care must be improved, doctors must be better taught to treat pain, the experiences of others jurisdictions must be studied, the errors elsewhere identified and considered. The day may or may not come when we are prepared to properly legislate in this regard, but that day is not here, he said. The law of unintended consequences must be considered, he added.

“This is not an easy issue,” he concluded in the evening’s greatest understatement.

The Bloc’s Diane Bourgeois stood then to express her support and commend Ms. Lalonde for her courage. She implored her colleagues not to vote this away, to take this opportunity to study and debate. “We must not brush it away. We must not reject it. We must improve on it,” she said.

She raised the story of a woman who had succumbed to disease three years ago and proceeded, in the most explicit and brutal of terms, to detail the suffering that proceeds death. The telling was harrowing. The gravity of this discussion, both profound and practical, made unavoidable to any within earshot.

The hour was by then nearly through. Conservative Mark Warawa was permitted a few minutes to begin his response, before the Speaker announced the start of adjournment proceedings. The debate paused then, on hold again until C-384 is called again to the attention of the House.




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The Commons: ‘This is not an easy issue’

  1. So you're willing to grant people the right to end their days slowly in agonising pain (by refusing further treatment), but not the right to end their days quickly without pain (by assisted suicide)?

    • Busted! Yes, that's exactly what I mean. Sick people deserve to suffer, preferably for as long as possible, so when I think about them I can enjoy a maniacal cackle. Thanks for fleshing me out.

      It's called palliative care, Jack. Yes it needs to improve and yes, it needs to be more accessible. But don't for a nanosecond think that'll ever happen if door-number-X shows up and we can just execute 'em instead.

      • Ah, MYL, always against the individual taking responsibility.

        • Forgive me, I thought we were trying to have a serious conversation. Since I was obviously mistaken, I shall wish you a good night.

          • I'm not joking around. Stripping the individual of the ability to choose when to die, because one believes that the collective good (fewer euthanasia 'mistakes') outweighs that individual's choice, strikes me as a seriously anti-individualistic position.

          • Committing suicide oneself remains, by definition, an individual act. Bringing one or more other person(s)in on it is, by definition, no longer an individual act.

            The possibility of confusion over just how much of this "mutual act" was the responsibility of the killee or the killer makes this a very dangerous field.

          • "Committing suicide oneself remains, by definition, an individual act"
            Really? So, someone with ALS just needs to unscrew the cap on the morphine bottle, pour it into a glass and…oh hold on, he's in a wheelchair, can't steady his arms. Too bad, he forfeits his right. My wife, who doesn't have the strength to open a drug bottle NOW will not have the option to make the decision without help.

            Stop speaking in uninformed generalities. Think about it, ok?

          • I can only attempt to understand what you and your wife are going through, and you have my best wishes. You are right, that your wife cannot commit suicide on her own, and would require the involvement of another person to die at a time of her choosing. Hence, "Committing suicide oneself remains, by definition, an individual act. Bringing one or more other person(s) in on it is, by definition, no longer an individual act." My allegedly uninformed generalities cannot get much more specific than those two sentences.

            Let us not confuse ourselves into thinking that we all have the right to impose on others the obligation of honouring our individual preference to die at a time of our choosing. And let us not ignore society's interest in not having people kill other people.

          • That last paragraph, in my opinion, sums this up perfectly.

          • Mr. Look,

            I do not see how this is a "very dangerous field".

            The suffering person makes an individual choice end his or her life and seeks out an individual to assist. The assistor makes an individual choice to assist.

            Surely it would not be determined unreasonable to legally require proof of the agreement with a lawyer(s) as witness.

          • The problem I see is the major risk that the individual requesting to be put under may be influenced by coercive elements (family pressure for one). You may argue that such pressures exist in any number of "consenting adult" kinds of contractual-events such as marriage, divorce, investment choices, etc. And youwould be right. And you seem comfortable extending these same influences to the apparently freely requested execution. Lines need to be drawn, and I choose to draw mine there, and I vote that our society keep it right there where it is.

            I believe that "people killing other people," whatever the justification, really ought to be kept to an absolute minimum. I hope that does justice to your question, for which I thank you.

          • Applause, Jack. You've been excellent in this thread.

    • Thanks for the link. A moving piece. But I do not see how a "panel" of peers goes anywhere to helping alleviate the societal guilt of fearing we are condoning assisted suicide or euthanasia too easily:

      That's why I and others have suggested some kind of strictly non-aggressive tribunal that would establish the facts of the case well before the assisted death takes place. The members of the tribunal would be acting for the good of society, as well as that of applicants, to ensure they are of sound and informed mind, firm in their purpose, suffering from a life-threatening and incurable disease and not under the influence of a third party. I would suggest there should be a lawyer, one with expertise in dynastic family affairs who has become good at recognising whether there is outside pressure. And a medical practitioner experienced in dealing with the complexities of serious long-term illnesses.

      (contd.)

    • (contd.)

      I would also suggest that all those on the tribunal are over 45, by which time they may have acquired the gift of wisdom, because wisdom and compassion should in this tribunal stand side-by-side with the law. The tribunal would also have to be a check on those seeking death for reasons that reasonable people may consider trivial or transient distress. If we are to live in a world where a socially acceptable "early death" can be allowed, it must be allowed as a result of careful consideration.

      Ah, the gift of "wisdom." It sounds oh so simple. If only it were that easy. It's that "reasonable people may consider trivial or transient distress part" that trips everything up. Reasonable people disagree on this issue! Reasonable people have compelling and compassionate arguments to support their (opposing) sides in the debate. Which makes it a little scary to deviate from the established notion that homicide (and assisting suicide) is illegal.

      • Reasonable people disagree on many controversial issues, and it's often scary to deviate from established notions. I haven't even made up my mind on this very difficult issue… I'd need to do a lot more research. However, part of me thinks that guys like Pratchett should be allowed to make a decision.

        • Unassisted suicide remains his decision at all times. Assisted suicide or requested euthanasia is, by definition, no longer his decision alone. Which is where it gets dangerously messy.

          • Unassisted suicide is also dangerously messy. Which is probably why guys like Pratchett would prefer the assisted route. It's a complicated issue.

          • "Unassisted" is also not possible for many in this situation. Thus the problem.

      • Meh. To me it's simply a case of "My life, my choice. If I don't want it, don't make me have it, and if I ask for help in ending it, don't punish someone for making it easier for me.. so long as I'm the one who does it."

        If anything, this panel idea is almost a little too restrictive for my tastes, which probably means it's a fairly decent idea.

    • I liked how he define it not as "assisted suicide" but rather as "assisted death".

      "Coroners never used the word "insanity". They preferred the more compassionate verdict that the subject had "taken his life while the balance of his mind was disturbed". There was ambivalence to the phrase, a suggestion of the winds of fate and overwhelming circumstance. In fact, by now, I have reached the conclusion that a person may make a decision to die because the balance of their mind is level, realistic, pragmatic, stoic and sharp.

      The people who thus far have made the harrowing trip to Dignitas in Switzerland to die seemed to me to be very firm and methodical of purpose, with a clear prima-face case for wanting their death to be on their own terms. In short, their mind may well be in better balance than the world around them."

  2. Some jurisdictions have already gone down this road: what can we learn from them?

  3. "Each day is a gift." What garbage. Perhaps every day in Paul Szabo's life is the same as every other, but in a life not spent wallowing in platitudes there are good days, wonderful days, terrible days, and days when "the suffering that precedes death" makes life completely pointless. Pardon me if I don't stand up to applaud Paul Szabo's endorsement not of life but of vacuity, his own and everybody's.

    • A tad harsh. One can do a far better job addressing a person's suffering so that one need not off him.

      Monopolized-Medicare-infested society, mid-Boomer-expiry era, with the "blessing" of suffering-reduction of legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide: I've got two options for you, Mrs. Hendorfer, now that we believe your cancer to be terminal. We can offer you euthanasia if you sign here, or we can switch your stretcher with that a salvageable patient currently spending her fourth day in a hallway just outside the ER. But you can't stay on this ward. Which'll it be?

      • Talk to patients with MS or ALS, you won't be hearing the suggestions coming from the doctor. It's coming from the patients. Sadly, I know at least two people who were, to quote Mr. Szabo's unknowingly ironic statement "inoperable and irreparable" and their last days were no gift, unless you believe God to be a nasty bastard.

        My wife has a degenerative condition, and I want her to have every and any option she decides upon when it's her time, be it palliative pain care or assistance in ending her own life. I do not wish her options to be limited by the supposed cruelty of a fictional sky carrot who will insist she choose months or even years of helpless pain as a way of thanking said fictional creature for every dignity filled day. She is worried, of course, that anyone who helps her end her own life will end up facing criminal charges. I'm sure every day she spends worrying about that is a gift, too.

        • Believe me, there ain't no supernatural power informing my misgivings, here. I just don't trust "us." And it is this mistrust that sees where such a movement could lead. Fair to the suffering? Maybe, maybe not. But then join me in pushing for better palliative care.

          • I will join you in pushing for better palliative care.

            But I will also continue to support the efforts to decriminalize medically assisted suicide.

      • That's the typical scenario, albeit in a nightmare world. But an absolute ban covers not only the typical scenario but the most extreme cases.

        Let's face it, we are prolonging life way past the natural point of expiration on a regular basis. 99% of the time that's great, particularly if, as a society, we can afford it. But there will always be a 1% of the time in which the prolongation of life converts medical science into the Spanish Inquisition and the patient into an inhuman mass of overloaded and cross-wired nervous circuits exploding with pain. This bill addresses that as-yet-atypical case which, factored into a population of 33 million, is so unusual that it happens every day.

        • "Medical science" can be withdrawn. Happens all the time. So your "Spanish Inquisition" is revocable. "Mandatory prolongation of life" is a ridiculous myth, except in minors whose brainwashed parents refuse blood transfusions.

      • I'm surprised at you, MYL, both because you are interfering with a person's right to choose for him/herself, but also because of the burden to the taxpayer for the medical care spent on prolonging this life in as pain-free a way as possible.

        Of course there must be safeguards in place so that people can't do away with other people and call it merciful. But that isn't an insurmountable problem, to my mind. I'm with Jack on where Szabo can stick his 'gift'.

        • Get in line, Jenn. My not wanting people to kill people seems to have created a crowd of people wanting to kill me.

          I am not interfering with anyone's right to choose anymore than I am interfering with Jack's choice to get pregnant. The "interference with a person's right to choose for him/herself" is inherent to the disability associated with the illness. The above commenters have a sympathetic argument, but it involves recognizing a positive obligation on society's part to assist with every individual's "right to choose." Like killing them at their request is on a par with installing a wheelchair ramp on a public building.

          I can only revert back to the paragraph Gaunilon liked so much above. Let us not confuse ourselves into thinking that we all have the right to impose on others the obligation of honouring our individual preference to die at a time of our choosing. And let us not ignore society's interest in not having people kill other people.

          • Oh, I don't think anyone wants to kill you, MYL. Change your opinion, yes, but not kill you.

            I also don't think allowing someone to end a loved one's suffering imposes an obligation on society. For myself, I do see the problem with an attending physician being asked to inject the needle, but I don't think we have to structure it that way so it's a moot point with me.

            But I'm now curious. Would you support capital punishment?

          • A fair question. I confess that in my lifetime I have been all over the map on capital punishment.

            I think I am settling in at "against." Mostly in light of the scary events of wrongful conviction in recent memory. We as a society are just not smart enough to "get it right" 100% of the time, and there should be absolutely no tolerance for an error rate of even 0.0001% in capital cases. That means, I guess, that if the state could demonstrate a flawless conviction rate, I would be comfortable with executing people who deliberately planned and succeeded in killing someone else. But since that (flawless) is not possible…

            And I don't think that this opinion contradicts my discomfort with the current end-of-life discussion we are having.

  4. Hypocrisy – pure and simple.
    Suicide is not a crime – based upon the fundamental conclusion that your life is your own to do with what you will…otherwise – what is free will? It may be viewed as such in religious circles – but – the last time I looked – there was supposed to be a clear separation between government and religion!
    Assisted suicide therefore should be viewed as a humane extension of this basic precept!

    • Suicide is not a crime because how do you punish the deceased? But people who attempt suicide are treated for mental illness.

      Assisted suicide is rarely humane because the motivation behind it is rarely altruistic.

  5. Two considerations:

    (1) Do we know for a certainty that someone who wants to die is in their right mind? In general we assume that suicidal tendencies are a sign of psychological instability.

    (2) It's one thing to allow someone to kill themselves, but it's quite another thing to force medical professionals to help them achieve this goal. "Assisted suicide" reduces to the latter just as abortion referrals did.

    • 1) That's what living wills and power of attorney are for. If the person isn't in their right mind, we have systems in place to make those decisions for them, according to their wishes when they were in their right minds. We cannot assume that anyone who wishes to end their lives is unable to think rationally. Obviously, things get much more complicated if a person has not set up such safeguards, but that's a problem that exists independent of the assisted suicide discussion – there are plenty of other life-and-death decisions that often have to be made about persons without proper cognitive functions or clear instructions about their wishes, and these get made all the time as it is.

      2) If we start by assuming that people have the right to end their lives how they see fit (I know, larger discussion, but most commentators here are side-stepping it for the time being), they the physical capability to actually end their lives shouldn't negate that right. How to go about assisting them is, of course, difficult, but I don't think it's an insurmountable challenge.

      Without taking too much time to think about it, perhaps mandate that only doctors working in palliative care facilities be required to provide that service and insist only that other doctors be required to refer patients to doctors who provide it, rather then having to perform it themselves. Add in a requirement for a documented wait period between the initial decision to terminate and the actual termination, along with a consult about their likely prospects with a physician to ensure that either they or the person making the decisions on their behalf are of sound mind. It's not a perfect framework, but I think it covers most of the bases.

      • (1) Living wills cover situations in which the patient is incapable of expressing their wishes, not situations in which the patient is expressing a wish to die. I suppose one could have a will that says "If I ever say I want to die then kill me", but it doesn't alleviate the question concerning the person's mental state when they make the request.

        (2) For a doctor to say "I won't kill you, but I'll refer you to someone who will" doesn't help. Any doctor who believes it's wrong to kill patients and has the stones to act on principle is going to refuse to make such a referral, since the referral is just an indirect way of helping the person kill themselves.

        • 1) The situation you describe is exactly what I'm referring to. You're working off the assumption that if someone expresses a wish to die under certain circumstances, their mental capabilities should automatically be suspect. That's an assumption I outright reject as invalid.

          If assisted suicide was legal, I probably would request that in the event I lose my mental capabilities, with no reasonable expectation of recovery, I would not want to live like that and would request termination. That's a request I make as someone who is of sound mind – I have no wish to die, and intend to live for another 60 years or more, but there are some situations I do not want to live through, and I see no reason why I shouldn't have the right to make the decision not to live through those if I so choose.

          2) A doctor shouldn't be making life decisions for their patients unless there is no other option. They should be providing information, guidance and services if requested. But the patient is the one who should be making the decision. What the doctor believes is not important, provided that whatever procedure a patient requests is legal and warranted under the situation. Again, if a doctor does not want to be terminating lives themselves, fine, but they have no right to deny such a procedure if there are other doctors who would. I would expect such a mandate to be legally enforced, just as I do for abortion referrals – my doctor's values don't override mine when it comes to my life.

    • Gaunilon: Clearly, you have never had to witness a loved one dying in pain with no hope of recovery. I assume you would view refusing to euthanize a dog in that situation as cruel and indeed one could be criminally charged in that case. Why do humans deserve less? Wait until you are dying of cancer in intractible pain which medicine cannot control. You may feel differently.

      • Leaving aside your unfounded assumptions about my personal experience, there is a big difference between killing a dog and killing a human. At least, there should be.

        • Why? I mean that to the question of killing a dog being different from a human, but feelings change every argument so why not this one?

    • Gaunilon,

      Do we know for a certainty that someone who wants to live is in his right mind?

      If we are adopting the premise that some people must be stopped from making personal decisions that only affect themselves, by what criteria do we (whoever is to decide) determine who they are?

  6. Assisted Suicide or Euthanasia is a very bad idea. It will open up the elderly and infirmed to all kinds of abuse. How will you be able to tell if the decision is based upon logic or depression? How do you prevent people from succumbing to pressure from greedy family members? How do you prevent people from succumbing to guilt over the costs of their care? or the emotional toll it takes on family? This is such a bad idea in every way.

  7. "but – the last time I looked – there was supposed to be a clear separation between government and religion! " Then let's do away with laws against murder, theft, violence, perjury, etc., and do away entirely with the notions of human value, dignity, and rights — all rooted in western religious belief. Religious beliefs lie at the foundation of all that is good and just and right and what has made Canada the peaceable, honest, and successful country it is. But, yes, let's do away with all of this based on a non-existent separation between government and religion.

    • Seems to me decisions about good and just and right came before Judaism, Christianity and Islamism, if not all religions. But then, that was probably before 6,000 years ago, so it doesn't count.

      • No way Jenn_. Before Yahweh, people were so coveting their neighbours' oxen.

    • "Religious beliefs lie at the foundation of all that is good and just and right…."

      By what standard?

      I know my religion is just because its injunctions adhere to my standards of justice, which come from my religion. Do you see how one could quickly become dizzy making this argument?

  8. Very difficult read for me, having lost my father-in-law to Alzheimer's just recently, and will be losing my brother to ALS in the not too distant future.

    I urge anyone interested in the topic of this thread to listen to the full lecture that Fred_Moro linked to above: ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUE3pBIuAGk – it's in six parts, total running time about one hour. Well worth the time. Thank you Fred.

    M_A_N, I wish you and your wife all the strength and comfort in the days ahead.

  9. As to (1), the justification given for assisted suicide is almost always the case of a patient in intense pain who requests lethal injection. The case you're talking generally involves being taken off life support, which is already a decision made by families under present law and is quite different from actively killing someone.

    As to (2), for a doctor to refuse to help you find someone who will kill you is quite different from "denying" you the procedure, or "overriding" your decision. If this law goes into effect doctors will be required to help patients kill themselves, either directly or by referral.

  10. 1) The situations are similar, but hardly equivalent. You're saying that if someone is in pain and wishes death, then their desire to die stems from irrational thought. What I'm saying is that if I am thinking irrationally, then I can have my wishes described in such a situation beforehand, when my mental capacities are not in doubt. That's no the same as being on life support – right now I'm watching my Grandmother suffer a slow decline of Alzheimer's. I don't want that life – if I ever get to the point she's in right now, I would really rather not still be around.

    Of course, that requires me to have lost my mental capacities. If I'm just in pain, then why are you assuming that I've lost the same clarity I have now? If I haven't given up my power of attorney, and am not legally insane, why should the choice to end my life be any different from other medical decisions?

    My point, mainly, is that the decision to choose death can be a rational one and assuming that the decision to end your life should cannot in itself bring up the question of your mental state.

    2) Such a law prevents doctors from obstructing the wishes of their patients. If a doctor suddenly decides that he or she has a moral objection to all forms of surgery, they still have to lay out surgery as an option if it's warranted and provide a reference to a surgeon if the patient requests one. I see no reason why this is any different.

    • I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

      I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan.

      Excerpted from the Hippocratic Oath…. just sayin.

      • I agree with you that doctors shouldn't (have to) be the ones doing this. For one thing, it is a waste of their extensive training as well as something of a contradiction to it.

        Preparing a mixture of lethal drugs, just enough for one needle dosage, plus the ability to administer said needle takes some expertise and training. But you don't have to know how to deliver a baby, set a broken leg, diagnose a disease, etc. Which is why I advocate licensing specific people for the job, giving them the training not just with the needle, but also with detecting signs that the terminally ill patient's family is hurrying things along faster than warranted, or overriding the patient's wishes (if said patient can articulate them).

  11. If the referral by the doctor is your big beef, how about we let the family hire a "mercy aid" or some such thing–a licensed person who knows how to prepare lethal injections and who knows how to administer needles. I'd say let the family do it, but a) I don't think giving just everyone access to these kinds of drugs is a good thing, and b) if it were me, I would probably screw up either filling the needle or finding the vein. Not because I'm upset to do it, but because I'm a klutz.

  12. " If I'm just in pain, then why are you assuming that I've lost the same clarity I have now?"
    I'm not. I'm suggesting that there is doubt. Ordinarily, suicidal tendencies are not a sign of robust mental health.

    Addressing your argument that you can choose to be killed now under some future circumstances, how are we to know whether you've changed your mind once we reach those circumstances? If you do, and can't let us know, then we will inevitably kill some people who actually don't want to be killed. That's called "murder".

    " If a doctor suddenly decides that he or she has a moral objection to all forms of surgery, they still have to lay out surgery as an option if it's warranted and provide a reference to a surgeon if the patient requests one. I see no reason why this is any different."
    It's different because it makes no sense for someone opposed to surgery to go into medicine. We don't want such people in modern medicine, and they don't want to be there either. There is no conflict there.
    On the other hand, it's perfectly sensible for someone who opposes killing patients to go into medicine. We do want such people in modern medicine, and they want rightly want to be there.

  13. I'm not sure I understand. Are you asking why there's a difference between killing a dog and killing a human? Seriously?

    I don't get the second point either. Feelings change no argument… the veracity of an argument relies only on the truth of its premises and the soundness of its logic. My feelings are irrelevant.

    • I'm not asking whether there is a difference, I'm asking you why, in your opinion, there should be a difference. Obviously, you think the soul of a human is more important than the soul of a dog. I suppose I agree with you since I'm all for human rights–but do not extend them to dogs. But a horse or a dog in pain–even when they show evidence of wanting to continue life, is very unlikely to 'escape' the ending of its misery. And yet, if the criteria is a soul's 'value' or 'importance' (what else is there?), that strikes me as completely opposite of what it should be.

      It is amazing how much feelings can twist logic, was all I was saying with the second thing. Although, I might also mention that it is logical for them to do so. But then we get back to the 'value' or 'importance' of a thing.

  14. Your solution sounds reasonable, but
    (a) It will not happen. Not only is it not part of the bill, but even if it were, some patients would end up requesting suicide without having hired a "mercy aid". Doctors would then be required to refer them to one.
    (b) It doesn't address objection 1.

    • I'll give you 'it will not happen' because I just don't think there are enough people who think like me to override the people who think like you.

      But it could happen. It could be made part of the bill. Doctors would then be required to say "you'll need a mercy aid. Look it up in the phone book, or have someone look it up for you." Yes, it means the terminally ill person will need to have someone other than the doctor and that could prove difficult for some, but it's better than banning it for everyone.

  15. Assisted suicide? Mercy killing? Euthanasia? It is the same reason used by those terrorists when they blow themselves up, against US WESTERNERS because they think , WE are "sick". Now we're scared…we should be grateful to them for the favour for ending our sick arrogtant and sefish society mired in individualism and addiction to convenience and the instant. The only difference between this assisted death and suicide bombers is that ours will be done by doctors who are paid to kill you while theirs are paid by their own life. Otherwise, both are just as barbaric as the other.

  16. "This is not an easy issue" and so is life. So, does the assisted death make life easier?

  17. One could say that our society, as it stands today, is based entirely on peaceful choice. The precepts of suicide is that we will be cast from heaven and sent to hell for an eternity of suffering. <— With that in mind, we choose to live (or are forced to live) because we assume that self-termination will have an overall negative impact in our lives (and afterlife). With this, our society removes peaceable choice and replaces it with a framework of fear – suicide must be bad because only bad people go to hell and "reasonable" people do not (or should not) consciously desire to be bad people.

    Isn't it called selfishness when we want something so badly for ourselves we detrimentally affect those around us? Do we want the people we love to die? No, but the day is going to eventually come where they will die and you will die. Living eternally is NOT an option.

    Which is worse? The tangible "hell" that is the painful, debilitating existence of some terminal diseases or the supposition that once we die we will go to hell to suffer eternally?

  18. When my dog had cancer and was in pain and suffering, I did the ZZ"humane' thing and had her put to sleep. It was awful to not have that same option when my mother was in agony as she lay dying from bone cancer (even while her body was being pumped full of morphine). We should have had that same option to help end her misery – period.

  19. Fortunately, we do not use the old, original Hippocratic Oath. Our societies grow and our ideas of right and wrong change with that growth. Besides, what's good for the patient is, I believe, best judged by the patient once they have all the relevant information, according to their desires, their values and their beliefs.

    If that means death, then it means death.

  20. At 76. I have lived a full, successful and generally happy life and would like to enjoy another couple of decades if I could. However, I have emphysema, lung fibrosis, arthrosis and painful arthritis that severely limits my mobility. I have well adapted to these ills and still hope for at least one decade more of enjoying life.

    I am an optimist by nature but also enough of a realist to know that my breathing and my knees will not get better as more years go by and that the probability of spending my last days on earth is high ( only a minute minority die at home these days).

    If assisted suicide were legal in Canada as it is in a growing number of counties and states, the prospect of going to a hospital to recover from an accident or an illness would not frighten me one bit. However, that is not the case and I am terrified by the idea of having a serious illness that could lead to my being captive of a hospital bed without hope of recovery nor the possibility of ending my suffering if I wish to. I am terrified that some doctor or judge would be in a position to keep me in a vegetative state to conform to her particular religious beliefs in spite of signed statements refusing to go on living in such a case.

    My fear of such an outcome is such that I will have no other choice but to commit suicide prematurely rather than enter a hospital should a serious illness strike me.

    By forcing your will on me, you, the opponents of medically assisted suicide will have only succeeded in causing my premature solitary legal suicide.

    Bernard

    • I am terrified that some doctor or judge would be in a position to keep me in a vegetative state to conform to her particular religious beliefs in spite of signed statements refusing to go on living in such a case.

      Then let me help you feel a bit better. If you clearly establish that, in such a state, you do not want to be kept in that state, you have every right to have medical therapy withdrawn, and comfort measures only will be offered to relieve suffering. This happens all the time, and in my lifetime several of my loved ones have opted for this.

  21. In my view Ms Lalonde is attempting to gain support for her bill by using thae fact of her own cancer which was not stated, but was on everyones' minds. The quebec Physicians who are supporting her cause are in unethical waters. Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide are both killing of another human being. In Holland about 500 people in the last year were killed WITHOUT their consent, That's what is called dying with dignity?,,,,hardly.

  22. Mr. Szabo stood again, this time to expand on his concerns, both philosophical and legislative. “This bill is seriously flawed, inoperable and irreparable,” he said. Rambling somewhat, he predicted inevitable mistakes and spoke too of the proverbial slippery slope. “The thought of taking a life for any reason is incompatible with the Canadian reality,” he ventured. “Each day is a gift,” he concluded.

    The line below impressed me a lot and the particular quote impressed me a lot "Each day is a gift".

  23. A smattering of spectators wandered in and out of the galleries. On the floor of the Commons, Ms. Lalonde listened to the discussion, periodically shrugging in frustration.

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