Idea alert -

Idea alert


Writing about Francine Lalonde’s private member’s bill on euthanasia, Don Martin considers the national conversation we’re not having.

Parliament, however, has been notoriously shy about having this discussion — even though prolonged agony continues to haunt thousands of Canadians who want an assisted way out of life, but are prevented from finding a legal exit.

For the seventh time in 18 years, a private member’s bill on the subject has been introduced and may reach the Commons floor this fall. For the seventh time, the bill seems doomed to die from a lack of political oxygen.


Idea alert

  1. The day that hospitals have the legal right to kill me, under any circumstances, is the day I expatriate.

    I don't like other things about the country, but giving anyone else (especially an institution) the legal right to kill me is something that affects me in the most profound way. As someone who has worked in a hospital as an orderly/security guard I've seen how flexible the notion of consent gets.

    For those that say that mistakes or abuses would never happen with a euthanasia, save it. We already know what kind of abuses can happen simply by looking at the Netherlands. I wouldn't live in a country with capital punishment either, because we know what kind of abuses and mistakes can happen there as well.

    Also take into account that living wills do not (and will never) have much legal standing above the wishes of interested parties. So making a living will of "it is not my wish to have a needle to end my life you &$%$@" won't guarantee the safety of my life when I am vulnerable.

    • Seeya!

  2. I have long wondered why we don't have euthanasia here in Canada. The State is happy to kill babies so I am not sure why adult euthanasia is so controversial.

    • I'm not sure your contention that "we don't have euthanasia" in Canada is correct. We don't have any laws specifically dealing with euthanasia, that's true…

      but we don't have any laws specifically dealing with abortion either…

      • I'm pretty sure if you have a doctor inject something into a patient with the intent to kill, that doctor will be charged with murder.

        Withholding medical treatment doesn't scare me nearly as much. I won't like it if one denies me treatment, but he won't have deliberately killed me.

      • We don't have any laws specifically dealing with euthanasia, that's true…

        What? Homicide provisions from the Criminal Code have been repealed?

        • Well, point taken. However, have there been any recent cases of doctors or nurses being charged with murder when a terminal patient died of an overdose of painkillers?

          • Sounds like we need more supervision to ensure a person's right to life then. Frankly, the whole branch of public health involving palliative care requires greater scrutiny to prevent institutionalized abuse and to push for proper resources.

  3. Well, you can't play the whole "a human is not a human" card when people have an identity and are walking around. You essentially have to make the case that their lives are worthless, or that people have the right to harm themselves.

    Plus of course with Abortions you don't have to worry about about being killed by it yourself. Of course, one day an abortion will be responsible for death of a family member, despite my best wishes and efforts. Since the left desires desires to intervene and cause a death in my family, it is one of the reasons I don't like them very much.

  4. You better expatriate yourself but quick, it's happening now.

  5. We'er not having the national conversation because no one wants to have it with the likes of you two.

  6. Let's have a national conversation on ABORTION instead.

    How about that ?

    Crazy thought, how about we discuss saving some lives instead of ending more!

    • If you really want to debate this logically (which I'm not convinced of yet), I'm more than willing.

      Let's start with this: 1. No matter what the law says some women will always choose to abort, 2. These women would not have access to medically safe abortions if you had your way, 3. Women lieing in pools of their own blood, with coathangers sticking out of them is not good policy, and does not have any moral high-ground in my book.

      After thinking about that you can go check out the countries where abortion is allowed, and where it isn't. It should give you a better idea on which side of the fence you are on.

      Then you can look at the statistics such as how many women die from unsafe abortions every year, and the correlation between legal abortions in the U.S., and their falling crime rate 20 years later.

      Then you can look at fetal development and determine when a fetus is likely to experience any suffering (hint: it's not before the first brain activity)

      That's just a quick start.
      If you find Ayn Rands athiesm annoying, you will certainly not like my current, godless conservatism any better.
      Just giving you fair warning.

      • Ayn Rand eh? Yeah that fits.

        As for abortion, banning abortion in all cases is certainly not going to work as a public good. However, abortion can be significantly reduced if people have an incentive to give a crap about their own offspring. Communal pride, a recognition of importance of bonds of blood, women having ambition and pride in their heirs rather than assuming that offspring are only for the glory of men, the desire for a legacy outside the state, charity and love.

        It is going to be a long, hard philosophical battle, but we'll win in the end. After all, the opposition is killing itself and leaving no legacy behind them but liquid assets. The future simply doesn't belong to the progressive apostles of Hegel.

        • The Ayn Rand thing was directed at Jesse because of something she said over at

          It should not be taken as an indicator that I'm a "Randian" (I'm not).

          It was more a warning that if Jesse finds athiest thinking annoying, then he/she should not bring any religious arguements into this policy debate, lest my athiesm annoy him/her.

          Good to hear you are not for banning abortion in all cases. Almost everyone believes that abortions should be reduced, so you aren't breaking any new ground there.

          I believe every woman should be left to make this difficult decision with those she trusts. If she has been made aware of the risks, then you or I have no right whatsoever to dictate to her what she will do with her body.

          • Don't get me wrong, I do believe that abortion is only acceptable when it would cause death or physical disability in the mother. I also believe that anyone who has had an abortion or performed an abortion for reasons of expediency is a murderer. I think that anyone who assisted in an abortion is guilty of being an accessory to murder.

            I also believe I have the responsibility to speak out and condemn these actions, because I have a responsibility to other human beings. True freedom does not mean the power to do anything you want. True freedom is the power to do what is good. With freedom and power also always comes with responsibilities if you want that freedom and power maintained.

            The notion that you can pursue a life that only takes the easy path and abdicates responsibility to your blood kin, your neighbour and your civic society and still have something that will endure is self-evidently false. It is simply unthinkable that the culture of death can survive.

          • I see you clearly now, thats for sure.

            So abortion is not an acceptable option to you in cases of rape and/or incest. That is some fine high-moral ground you have carved out there.

            It is fortunate that what you think has no bearing, on what we, as a society considers murder.

            Freedom means you get to call anyone you want a murderer, and it also means others can ignore that as rhetoric. I could just as easily say that you want to "muder" women, by not allowing them access to medically safe abortions.

            Freedom isn't always "to do what is good". Only a polyanna would think so.
            Are you the final arbiter on what is "good"?

            I think more in terms of what is sensible, logical public policy. I try not to get into the language of good and evil. The world is alot more complex then that false dichotomy.

          • "So abortion is not an acceptable option to you in cases of rape and/or incest. That is some fine high-moral ground you have carved out there."

            TedTE is more than capable of defending themselves but I couldn't let this pass.

            Are we responsible for the sins of our fathers? What moral high ground do you think you occupy when you justify someone's murder because of something their dad did?

          • There are many issues in which we will agree, but this is not one of them.

            I also find the whole "murder" rhetoric cheap.
            It cheapens the word murder.
            Your view that abortion is muder is not, nor ever will be the accepted use of the word in our society.

            Also, as a Celtic fan, I find your image highly offensive.
            Don't make me go Section 13 on your butt.

          • You use your words, we'll use ours.

            The wohle point of this discussion is the belief that a fetus is a human being with all the dignity and rights that you or I have. You obviously disagree.

            To us its murder, to you it isn't.

            Nobody really cares what a poll of "society" would say. I'm sure its probably 70% not murder, 30% murder. That just means we have more work to do…

          • No mas. No Mas.

            I submit. Your murder rhetoric has killed my appitite for debate.

            I agree it will be quite a task for you to turn public opinion into political movement on this issue.

            I hope you find another avenue for it rather then the mainstream Conservative Party
            (Christin Heritage Party maybe?)

            I would have to hope and pray that the Liberals had gotten their act together enough to let me vote for them (that would be the first time).

            This is an issue that had the dynamite potential to destroy the party.
            Harper rightly understands this, and will allow free votes accordingly.
            Anything else will lose my vote for a considerable period (I may turn Libertarian or something)

          • No mas. No Mas.

            I submit. Your murder rhetoric has killed my appitite for debate.

            I agree it will be quite a task for you to turn public opinion into political movement on this issue.

            I hope you find another avenue for it rather then the mainstream Conservative Party
            (Christian Heritage Party maybe?)

            I would have to hope and pray that the Liberals had gotten their act together enough to let me vote for them (that would be the first time).

            This is an issue that had the dynamite potential to destroy the party.
            Harper rightly understands this, and will allow free votes accordingly.
            Anything else will lose my vote for a considerable period (I may turn Libertarian or something)

          • For most people, for/against abortion is not decided by political ideology.

            It all depends if you think fetus is baby that deserves protection like any other person or clump of cells that don't add up to human until birth. I think you will find a wide range of opinion about abortion in all parties.

          • I agree with your last post 100%.

          • There's rural Liberal members with similiar feeling, so its definetly not partisan in the Canadian sense.

            But our media and the leaders would expect a whipped vote and would take anything less than a whipped vote to be a sign of extreme intolerance to women. So I don't even want to see this come to a vote, it'll blow up too much of the work on the economic/crime front and be the end of the Conservative party.

            Lousy economic management and big government fuels social pathologies. Politics is the art of the possible so that should be the focus for now. Ending the CBC needs to come first !

            Besides, there's a lot of non-political work that needs to be done before the issue is raised. Why hold a vote when its going to be 70-30 against you? It'll take a lot of education and a lot of talking to people and making the arguements nessecary.

            Obviously you haven't been won over but perhaps somebody reading has.

      • Abortion rates do DECREASE the harder it is to get an abortion. In states with parental consent, adoption counseling, and other rules you do so a decrease in the number of abortions.

        Yes, there will always be rule breakers. There will always be people hurting themselves. Not really a lot we can do about that.

        But legal abortion creates situations like this:

        a woman getting 15 of them.

        So if I have to grapple with the public policy implications of back alley abortions then you need to think seriously about the harm that many of these woman are doing to themselves WITH ABORTIONS.

        • What are the teen pregnancy rates like in those states you mentioned?

          Abortion as birth-control is wrong and sickening. No-one advocates women getting multiple abortions.

          To deny all women the right to choose to abort on this basis, does not follow, and would cause great harm and suffering.

          I would like to clarify your position. Do you think that abortions shoud be banned in all circumstances?
          If not, then under what conditions should they be allowed IYO?

          • Abortion should be allowed in cases of medical need. Examples like a mother who finds out she has cancer and needs chemo ASAP.

            In cases of rape and incest, abortion should be permitted if a mental health team finds that the mother will attempt to kill herself if not given an abortion.

  7. That's okay, I don't want to have the conversation either. I'd prefer it if "sanctity of life" was held as a common assumption. No capital punishment, no abortion, no euthanasia, no murder.

    People like causing the death of human beings for various reasons though. They find it expedient or desirable.

  8. I don't have a house, kids in school, or a long-term position yet. So if it is going to happen, I'd rather it happen sooner rather than later.

    • No, John's saying it's actually happening right now. Hospitals are exercising their legal right to fulfill the wishes of their patients as we speak. If you refuse to live in a country that allows any form of euthanasia you should be looking for a new home already.

  9. The arguments against have been thoroughly considered and found wanting. Until the unlikely comes to pass and anti-abortionists come up with something new and compelling, it's pretty much the same old dull conversation.

    • Unless this renewed conversation about abortion addresses permitting abortion up to the 22th trimester, I'm not interested.

    • Generally, ethics aren't new. The arguments for circumventing them generally aren't new either.

    • The arguements against abortion have been found wanting ?

      Since when is not killing a human being been thoroughly considered and found wanting? Thou shalt not kill is the moral foundation of the western world.

      • Thou shalt not kill is the moral foundation of the western world.


        Good one.

        • I'm sure incidents of institutionalized murder in the past were rationalized away as not really being murder, LKO.

          So don't laugh too much.

          • i think that only strengthens his point TTE.

      • If you are taking this from the bible (which I'm sure you are), perhaps you shold read on past that part to the parts where Yaweh not only condones killing, but orders it.

        The Magna Carta is a much more important document in forming Western morality. The greatest innovation since then is Jefferson's contention that there should be separation of church and state.

        As far as abortions before the 20th week… One mans human being may be another mans unthinking, unfeeling, unknowing collection of cells that may have the potential to become a human being.

        I trust you are against condoms as well, as these prevent potential human beings from having the "right to life".

        • Why be against birth control?

          There is a fundemental moral difference between the possibility of life and that ball of cells you're talking about. A seperate organism is created at that moment and begins its life cycle.

          Its not even potential, it IS human life, that will unfold in a linear line of personal history unless someone breaks it. 20th birthdays, wedding, graduation, all will end in that moment of abortion.

          • I ask this not to be confrontational but out of genuine curiosity, does your own personal concern for life in this sense only apply to potential human life, or to all life?

            Not that I'd personally not make a distinction between human life and animal life, but I do think that things become arguably more complicated when one is comparing a non-sentient collection of living cells to a sentient, fully developed, but non-human being (and, of course, this is where things, potentially, get really complicated).

            I guess, personally, I don't disagree at all that that that clump of cells is "life" (seems rather self-evident), I'm just less convinced that it's "human".

          • Animals are animals, they should not be abused needlessly but people have got to eat.

            I'd say the clump is human, in that its a homo sapien. Its just not been given the chance for its personality to develop. So its not a "person" just yet. But personhood isn't the only thing we respect.

            People who have had traumatic brain injuries or strokes and lost much of their personhood are still treated with dignity, so obviously there are other measures that are important to us.

            I think the fact that it wouldn't feel pain is irrelevent. That's dealing with how we kill, not whether killing is right or not.

            So we arrive at this debate at personhood and the potential for life. But isn't this just intellectualizing.

            On an intuitive level we all know its a child. Its being killed BECAUSE its a child, another mouth to feed or what not. So this being a clump of cells is a temporary condition.

            I think we should grant that clumps of cells have their whole lives ahead of them and killing them is intended to stop that life from happening. I view that as a great loss and terribly unfair to that person.

          • You say in your 2nd paragraph that a fetus "is not a person just yet"

            Then in your last paragraph you say that it's "terribly unfair to that person"

            Not exactly a model of consistancy.

            I believe true life can only begin at the first brainwave, no earlier.
            Your problem is that you think "On an intuitive level we all know its a child".

            That is not the case. If I believed that, I would be anti-choice like you.

            BTW no-one thinks abortions are good things. Some just feel that a thinking, feeling person trumps a clump of cells, which may or may not make it to "personhood".

          • By that logic people who have severe mental disabilities or who are (largely) unthinking infants should have their right to life trumped by a parent or wider society who can't be bothered to look after them anymore.

            Human life is a progression of growth from conception to adulthood. The idea that the existence of a human being happens magically because it passes through some genitals is simply superstitious. Infants grow, develop, eat in utero as they do afterwards. Any division you assign due to capability is going to be an artificial one.

            As for what kinds of abortions should be banned? Well when I had my first child you get tested at 5 months for Down's Syndrome. You then have an abortion at 6 months if it tests positive. Given that 90% of fetuses with Down's Syndrome are aborted, it seems that quite a few abortions happen at 6 months for eugenics purposes. You certainly have brain activity then, and it is even at the border of viability outside the body. We generally agree that eugenics is bad, we don't consider the disabled as being subhuman and it is a abortion purely for the reason of expediency rather than health or welfare of the mother.

            It should be relatively uncontroversial to make this illegal then, no? Unless of course you only consider people's lives to be important only as much as they conform to an ideal of being at a peak of intellectual and physical power, and human life is decreasingly less important the further away it falls short of that ideal. It is no accident that those who are pro-euthanasia and pro-abortion are generally one and the same. It is because secular humanism is a misnomer.

          • Do you think that any fertilized egg is a "human life".
            If so I think it is you who is drawing artifical divisions based on superstition.

            It has always been a part of my position that abortions in the 3rd trimester should have restrictions.

            I've tried to explain that noone is really "pro-abortion", but you don't seen to be listening to that.

            You just want to cast your projection of what you feel a person who is pro-choice is like.

            If secular humanism is a misnomer, then so is Christian morality.

          • It is not a matter of opinion whether or not a fertilized egg is a human life. It is an empirically verifiable fact.

            Plus, people are pro-abortion. They complain as a step back in progress if domestic abortion rate declines, they believe that abortion is a solution for crime and environmental concerns, and they believe that an aborted child is a superior good to an unwanted child. How is any of that not "pro-abortion". Especially since they back it up with the attitude "oh its not alive" or "oh it is not a human" making it pretty much the equivalent to removing an intestinal parasite. When the attitude is that it is a good for individuals and society, and that there are no moral repercussions, in what way is that not pro-abortion?

            As for christian morality, my moral duties to my God have nothing to do with this discussion. I'll freely admit that unless you believe in born-again theology, Christian moral behavior is full of hypocrisy and shortcomings.

            Moral obligations to others however, is defensible on its own merits and arguments without the need to appeal to God.

          • I've never seen any hypocracy or short-comings in born-again Christians… EVER ; )

            So I'm assuming that you feel that it is immoral to fertilize eggs without them becoming human-beings?

            Does this include in vitro fertilisation, and embrionic stem-cell research?
            It surely must.

            Anyway I think it is safe to conclude that we could not be farther apart on the issue of when viable, meaningful human life begins.

            And as I alluded to earlier, the rhetoric of "pro-abortion", and abortion being tatamount to "murder" is becoming tiresome.

            We have been fairly civil thus far, I suggest we quit while we're ahead.

          • Eggs fertilized artificially aren't nessecarily owed the same treatment as a naturally concieved human being. Their circumstances and life cycle are obviously different and the distinction is between intentional harm (abortion) and neglect (letting the two or three cells die).

            Obviously i'm not comfortable with certain experimentation on embryos and there needs to be much stricter limits on science than the carte blanche we've given people.

          • Ah yes, I mangled something in there. I'm saying that unless you believe in born-again theology, you recognize that you are always going to be a hypocrite who can't live up to your calling. Born again Christians generally believe that accepting Christ has a transformative effect on your being. You do good works because of the grace of God. I got sloppy there, so thank you for drawing my attention to it.

            As for whether it is immoral to practice in vitro fertilization and embryonic stem-cell research, yes I definately don't believe in using humans as means-merely. Luckily, ethical science usually produces the best dividends, which is why adult stem cell research is both ethical and productive.

            As for quitting, why should I be the one to forfeit the last word? Oh, and stop giving yourself a +1 thumbs up. It is petty.

          • I guess your going to have to take my word that the +1 thing is none of my doing, I see you don't have an account, so I'm not sure why you would comment on something you weren't sure of.

            jolyon appears to have the same phenomenon, and I'm sure it's not his fault either.

            Anyway good talking to you. I'm glad you appreciate it is a moral battle that must be fought, before the political one.

            Best of luck to you.

          • "I believe true life can only begin at the first brainwave, no earlier."

            Have you ever used birth control? If you have, than you know exactly when life begins. The rest is sophistry to try and soothe you conscience because you support killing babies.

          • Just in time to ramp up the rhetoric eh, Jolyon.

            Since you support laws that would kill women, then I guess you are a serial-killer in disguise.
            Also due to the nature of back-alley abortions, you are also a serial-rapist.

            Say whatever you like. Both sides of this issue can insult, or cast aspersions at each other. It is counter-productive, especially for your side.

            I don't really want this debate to go to PETA's, "holocaust on your plate", type depths

            You don't have to worry about my conscience. It's doing just fine thanks.

          • My meaning in saying that a fetus is both not yet a person and yet action taken against is terribly unfair to that person is that its unfair to the future person it will become.

            I believe the consequences of an action can unfold over time. This is rather obvious.

            If you poison somebody slowly and they are completely unaware of it, it does not "hurt" them yet but over time it will kill them you could say that your actions are unfair to that person now because it will hurt them later.

            Or another example, setting in motion a plan to hurt somebody in the future. Even though the loss does not come until later, the actions you are taking in this moment are morally wrong.

            Thus the morality of actions and their effects must be viewed across the span of time.

            Not being short sighted, looking ahead, its OBVIOUS that its a child being destroyed. That's the whole point! So that you won't have a child to feed in 9 months.

            The fact that its not a child in this instance is irrelevent. We don't live instant to instant. Our lives unfold over a period of time and so do our actions and their consequences.

  10. No it doesn't. It proves the initial point. In another life time Michael Ignatieff asked the question:

    "If there is something special about the human person, why is this inviolability so often honored in the breach rather than in the observance?"

    Our ability to see that we have often fallen short of respecting human life is derived directly from our belief that it is sacred. That is why Lord Kitchener's words are ironic, otherwise they would be empty of meaning in relation to my statement.

    Thou shalt not kill remains the foundation, the goal, the best case scenario. Reality comes in. We all recognize that but it doesn't mean we give up or abandon first principles.

    • Hey, just for the record, I don't disagree about the importance of the sanctity of life.

      That being said, there's more to life than living.

      • No there isn't. You require a material body to occupy a specific point in space and time, and to have linear thoughts and experiences. Being alive and in pain is a better quality of life than being dead, in which you have no life at all. That is why the Nicene creed affirms the physical resurrection of the dead. It is the irrational hope and promise of faith that life will be restored.

        I understand that life can be brutally painful and unfair. When I was a security guard/orderly at a hospital I saw lots of terminally ill people in pallative care. I saw people in pain and wishing that the "Lord would take them", I saw people living lives of waking dreams and nightmares, I saw a stroke victim who could only perform a set of 4 actions ceaselessly in his room and would do those actions for the next 40 years of his life. I understand that the events of life can be remorselessly cruel. But any portion of life, no matter how cruel and unfair, is an improved quality of life to being a slab of meat on a gurney. That's when you truly have no quality of life.

        I also saw people who were over-medicated (without the patient's knowledge) for being problematic until their personalities were almost wiped clean. I saw people bound and then their families directly lied to about their family members being bound. I saw people confined to a hospital ward for months on end because there was a lack of proper resources and facilities to house them. Most of all, I saw that the doctors and nurses of the hospital were just like people in other jobs in that they tried make it through the day with the least amount of trouble.

        If I have a brain injury or become too feeble to care for myself, I am probably going to be a problem patient. I'm fairly aggressive and contrary now and I don't expect that to change. I'm probably going to be drugged if I want to eat, bound and imprisoned if I try to wander. But I'll be damned if I accept as part of the package that I'm going to give any institution the protocols to kill me as well.

        • That is why the Nicene creed affirms the physical resurrection of the dead. It is the irrational hope and promise of faith that life will be restored.

          Fair enough but (hold on to your crucifix) not everyone believes what you do. You're certainly free to live a life of excruciating pain in accordance with the dictates of your faith, and I certainly agree that the government has no right to stop you against your express wishes. However, the government also has no right to force me to live a life of excruciating pain in accordance with the dictates of your faith.

          I do agree that it's a very complicated issue though. If we're going to go by scripture, there are at least as many passages in the bible that suggest that you should kill me for not believing what you do as there are that suggest you should do whatever you can to force me to stay alive because of what you believe.

          • Oh piss off. I'm not demanding that you live according to my faith. I'm making the point that Atheist and Theists alike can recognize that being dead is being dead. There is no new life that will be as good as this one, and there is no quality of life when you are dead.

          • There is no new life that will be as good as this one, and there is no quality of life when you are dead.

            Are you sure everyone believes that? 'Cause I'm pretty certain there are a fairly large number of people who quite explicitly do not. I guess I can see that you're not demanding that I live according to your faith, you're only demanding that I die in accordance with it.

            I'm not sure that "surely everyone can agree that they view death the same way that I do" is a logically compelling argument.

          • I still think that my liberty and right to life when I am vulnerable trumps your desire to end your life. We demand reasonable doubt and do not execute people here in Canada precisely because we want to prevent abuses with tragic results. Now you want to flip that on its head and say "Oh well, if a few mistakes are made it is worth it so that those who want to end their life can."

            As for what people believe, if all that matters is that people believe, I'm sure people will want medical assistance committing suicide so they can transfer their souls into astral bodies so they can catch a ride to an alien civilization on a comet. That doesn't mean we are going to let them. Nor do we let people starve themselves to death in hunger strikes.

            Also it is simply a fact that 1 life > 0 life in terms of quality or quantity of life. You can't have something be something of quality if it doesn't exist.

          • Also it is simply a fact that 1 life > 0 life in terms of quality or quantity of life.

            Only if you believe that being alive is in and of itself superior to not being alive in all cases, which not everyone does.

          • Oh, I'm sure some people would rather be dead than alive.

            However, you can't have quality of life when you're dead, because you're dead. Not alive. Passed beyond. Deceased. An ex-living person. How can it be a superior quality of life if you are dead? You won't be around to gauge the quality of your life because you're maggot food and have no life to examine.

          • I get your point, but there are those who believe in life after death. i.e. that the soul lives on independent of the body, so, in a sense, that one can have a superior quality of life beyond the physical death of one's body.

            I should say, I certainly understand your concern for the protection of your own life, I'm just am not certain that I agree that we can't respect the freedom of others to an assisted death with dignity without irreparably harming your right to live unimpeded even in dire circumstances.

            Of course, to the broader point of the post and Martin' article, this is why we should discuss these things openly and debate them!

          • For the first paragraph, I'm not someone who believes that anything trumps the rights and value of life, so I don't give a damn if someone thinks they are going to die and be welcomed into a state of Nirvana by 72 Virgin Mary's on the back of a comet. One has a responsibility to support people so they can live life fully. I don't have a problem with letting people die (though I think that people should be encouraged to live) but I can't countenance killing someone "for their own good".

            As for the second, I do not think that you are correct. Which is why if there is ever institutionalized assisted suicide, I would make myself scarce fairly quickly. I'm not going to die like a powerless chump after being executed for being an inconvenience. That is my good death.

        • So others should not be allowed to end their lives because you are afraid that you may be killed?

          The bill on thge table says you would have to consent twice, 10 days apart, while being of sound mind and body.

          It doesn't sound like you would ever do this, so you would have nothing to worry about.

          If you have seen the suffering at long term care facilities, and still wish to deny those who are terminally ill from the freedom to chose to end their lives (and pain) with dignity, then I think it is your thought-process that lacks compassion.

          Just because you would prefer to be alive when brain-dead and in constant pain, doesn't give you the right to make that decision for everyone else.

    • that is all nice and warm and fuzzy about how our observance of our short-coming reaffirms our commitment to our principle…but… and this is a big but…. at a certain point one simply has to admit that that asserting the principle in the face of their actions – including the willingness to carve out a plethora of exceptions – is no more than pretense: it is in actuality not the first principle.

    • that is all nice and warm and fuzzy about how our observance of our short-coming reaffirms our commitment to our principle…but… and this is a big but…. at a certain point one simply has to admit that that asserting the principle in the face of their actions – including the willingness to carve out a plethora of exceptions – is no more than pretense.

      • or, more pithily, when does a principle become rhetoric?

        • Of course,

          that's why we need people to get serious. Morally thoughtful people don't support the death penalty. They don't support abortion, euthenasia, or even unjustified war.

          Exceptions are corrosive, they open up a slippery slope. All the more reason not to go down this road.

          • maybe.

            but back to my original point that you disagreed with, i don't seen how anyone can, in 2009, claim that the sanctity of life remains a foundational principle in the west (or anywhere else in the world)…it may have been at one point but those days are long long gone.

          • Civilization, the west, the nation of Canada – these are all concepts that are evolving, works in progress.

            Ignatieff makes the point that the idea of rights are still unfolding to this day. We have the big picture but the work comes in the implementation, in changing how things how done, in facing up with our biological contraints (we're both social and agressive animals).

            So we have our actual history, the terrible treatment of natives for instance. And then we have these lofty goals, this idea about who we are as a people. And they don't line up and we realize that.

            But that just means we rededicate ourselves to the project, to this idea about the country and people we want to be.

            Sanctity of life remains a foundational principle for the west, its just that "the west" doesn't really exist, never really has, and is still in the process of being born or coming into existence.

          • sorry Jesse but i just don't see how the answer here is to lessen the reality of a particular entity (e.g., Canada) – a variable entity, but an entity nonetheless – as a justification to say that X (in this case sanctity of life) is indeed a foundational principle of that entity.

            When an entity has scarely acted in a manner that demonstrates its dedication to that principle – and more often has clearly disavowed that principle – it is delusional to claim the proscribed principle is foundational. you yourself have essentially said we are not serious about the sanctity of life.

            if i, assuming no debilitating impediments, sat on the couch and overate everyday never exercising, would you believe me when i then told you i claimed a foundational principle of my life was a physically healthy lifestyle?

  11. the conversation we need to have is about the proper role of a national government in the middle of a health care system. can we do better than what is in place, please?

  12. I am saying that people should be free to end their lives (their lives are their own) when they choose, in the manner they choose.

    You seem to think that no matter what level of suffering, no matter the duration of the suffering, people should never be allowed to ask for professional help in ending their lives painlessly.
    That is why I said your thought-process (not you) lacked compassion.

    Doctors will not be taking these choices into their own hands (unless they want to be charged with murder).
    Your arguement reminds me of the "death panel" talking point in the Americian health-care debate ( a paranoid fantasy used to fear-monger).

    You have the right to live. Others should have a right to die if they so choose IMHO.
    These are not mutually exclusive.

    This bill will never pass anyway. But those people who feel that they know what is best for everyone, and would deny people their personal freedoms (the right to die, the right to abort, the right to marry whom one chooses) bother me tremendously.

    People like that do not understand what personnel freedom, or true conservatism, is.

    • No, I generally think the more compassionate thing is to show people that their lives have value and are a blessing, despite the pain and misery. Not to accept their assertions that their lives are worthless and encourage them commit suicide. You underestimate how impulsive suicidal thoughts are (and 10 days still counts as impulsive) and how important a strong support network is to keep people socialized and encouraged enough to stay among the living.

      As for the fact of whether abuses can happen in places that legalize euthanasia, we don't have to guess. A couple of places have already taken the plunge and there have been problems. We already have the example of the Netherlands. Human beings are incapable of doing things without abusing that thing. My tolerance for whether I want to have me and my blood exposed to the risk of an unwanted suicide should trump your desire to kill yourself. In any cases where you could give consent "of sound mind and body" that I would accept, you can jump the plane to the Netherlands. I would have to use the local hospitals and mental health facilities.

      As for my conservatism, I'm not a modern neo-conservative obviously. So I don't care whether I'm a true conservative or not. I vote the least worst option just like any other citizen in this country does.

    • What is the right to abort ? How about the right not to be aborted ? What about the rights of the living, breathing, eating, baby growing inside someone? True conservatism has never been i'll do whatever the heck I want even if it hurts others.

      And no, these concerns are not a paranoid fantasy. There has been terrible abuse in countries with euthenasia laws.

      If someone wants to die there's not stopping them. So this only comes into play when people are incapacitated. They are at their most vulnverable. What if they had changed their minds? How could we know ?

      • Babies don't breathe, or eat until they exit the womb.

        Does not existing hurt you? Who is the real victim here?

        I believe that with proper guidelines a right to die law would be humane, and not be abused. I'm not talking about killing grandma when she's suffering dementia.
        I'm talking about those who have thought it thru, and decided that they no longer want to live thru their pain. I'd rather have this above board, and in a hospital, then practiced covertly, either in a hospital or elsewhere.

        • Babies consume oxygen and nutrients, they just do it through a different mechanism.

          Of course not existing "hurts you". If you define "hurts" in the limited sense of whether you have a physical sensation of pain then the entire earth being destroyed by a comet wouldn't be a great loss would it ?

          If you define hurts in proper context, in the broader sense of not getting a chance to experience your life then a baby being aborted and humanity being wiped out are both bad, in the same way.

          And i'm glad you have such trust in government. I sure don't.

          They've bungled everything else in the health care system. You expect them to get this right ? This, the most extreme and difficult of issues ?

  13. I'd just like to add a note that while things have at some points gotten a bit "testy" in the comments above (myself included), it's nice that we can discuss such an emotionally-charged issue with so (relatively) little vitriol.

    Good job everybody! (Hope that doesn't sound too patronizing, as it is meant sincerely).

    I'm not totally confident we could have such a relatively calm discussion among all of the public at large all together, but I'm generally impressed by our self-control around here – considering the highly charged nature of the topic!

  14. I see your definition of breathing does not involve air. The accepted definition does.
    Is a person on an IV "eating". You must think so.

    You read my post in which I specifically use the word correlation when talking about the crime rates, and then proceed to put other words in my mouth.

    Knocking down theese stawmen you create may be entertaining for you, but I am growing weary of it.

    I can see from some of the points in this post that you feel that some women decide to abort due to "ideology". I can't believe any sane person would think so.

    You also seem to want the state raising unwanted children, and make a completly unsubstantiated claim about the cost of naturalizing an immigrant versus the cost of raising a child.

    You are free to advise any 13 year old raped and impregnated by her father (that is in your circle of influence) to have the child. Don't be suprised if most people find that morally repugnant.

    I don't think either of us will be moved from our positions, and I also see that you have decided what "good" entails, so I'm thinking we are just about done.

    Unless you have some logic which I would find particularly compelling from a public policy point of view.

    My position remains that the pain of one woman giving birth amounts to more suffering then all of the abortions ever performed before the 20th week. That does not include the pain and suffering (and terrible shame) experienced by women who have felt compelled to perform back-alley abortions.
    The pain of these women is on the heads of those who made women prisioners of their biology, and restricted their right to choose to abort.

    Any real debate on abortion laws in this country can only come on restrictions of late-term abortions, and even that is political poison, as many will assume that it is only the thin edge of the wedge, and would probably not be wrong to assume so. Your position is extreme, and will never be acceptable in this country.
    I hope none of your family is ever raped, as you may feel the need to ratify your position, or to give advice that is very insensitive.

    • I wouldn't go around accusing people of erecting strawmen and then go to the default arguement about rape and incest when over 99.9% of abortions involve neither.

      And adopting out the babies of rape/incest victims seems sensible. Or who knows, perhaps the mother will change her mind and decide that the baby is the one good thing that came out of her ordeal.

      Not everyone thinks of babies as a burden, to some it is a blessing.

    • By the way, your science might be a bit out of date. Babies are now being shown to form memories quite early in the pregnancy.

      And I believe there have been cases of babies born premature at 20 weeks who have lived.

      If the science develops to allow artificial wombs to develop very young fetuses then will you change your thinking in to supporting the option of c-sections and then medical care for these human beings ?

      Or does the whole point remain, as always, to prevent these babies from ever living their lives ?

      Another moral question you need to ponder, when an abortion FAILS, which it sometimes does, and a baby is delivered alive should doctors provide it with life saving treatment ?

      Google "abortion survivors". There's one young lady who died around 12 or 14, had the side of her face paralyzed for her life where the needle that poisoned her and was supposed to kill her was injected.

    • Yes, breathing involves the transmission of oxygen and eating the intake of nutrients. Just because someone requires assistance, doesn't mean they aren't doing it.

      What exactly would be immoral about a 13 year old having a child? Is it the incestuous origin of the child or the fact that she is too young to have a child? 13 is getting to point where she might be physically unable to have the child, in which case an abortion might be necessary.

      I don't think however, that it would be immoral to advise someone to bring the unborn child, because I think the person will be happier in the long term, and of course the child will have his entire future to live and to accomplish what he or she can.

      As I've stated, I would be leery about forcing anyone to bring a child to term. I fully expect that abortion will have to be defeated by a change of ethics, not a imperious demand. Hopefully, the creation of an artificial uterus will allow the right choice to be made into an easier choice. I'm under no illusions though that an artificial uterus will end abortion. It has become to some an ideological good in its own right, and people choose abortion instead of adoption now for ideological reasons. There are some who will choose abortion instead of giving it to others to transplant into a uterus in the future, even if it would have no difference to their obligations than if they had chosen an abortion.

      Also, why do you assume nobody in my immediate family has never been raped? Do you realize how common rape is? Granted, rape is only a fraction of a percent of the reason people have abortions, but I don't think there is very far you have to go in your family relations before you'll find a victim.

  15. I think the proper example would be someone who is obese, eats poorly, exercises sometimes and tells you that they wish they were skinny and they think exercise is important to them.

    So you have two different things at work, the reality of the situation and the goals.

    So what if that obese person didn't even make the half ass effort they did? They would be huger than huge.

    I know its like trying to disprove a negative but when you look at some other countries like Iran, China, or intrawar Germany you get an idea about what human society could look like without our committment to human rights.

    So we have bad and worse and while i'm not celebrating bad I think we should stick to it in order to avoid worse.

  16. that example is prob more consistent with what we are discussing. but with it, like the comparison you draw after – and I fully agree that while both positions are wanting it is better to be bad than worse – i don't see how either bad or worse constitute a distinction when it comes to a commitment to human life or rights (remember China would say everything you are!).

    'commitment to human life or rights' constitutes an important point of assessment of societies, but i think is better not to be delusional about its place in how we actually organize society by making great rhetorical claims to its import (as opposed to your much more realistic assessment of where we actually stand in practice).

    • It depends on your field I suppose.

      I certainly did not mean to suggest it as a straight foward anthropological assesment of western civilization. And the confusion on the matter is my fault.

      But from a more literary/philisophical perspective, which most of the time is only rhetorical (althought rhetoric is important because it sets the tone and DOES influence people in small ways), there is a set of rights and a unique conception of human beings as valuable as individuals at work there that sets western civilization apart.

      • thanks for the clarification Jesse, i prob should have caught on more to the distinction you were trying to draw out. we agree on more than we disagree i suspect including that you are quite right in pointing out the importance of rhetoric. I do worry though, on this issue and others, that out adherence to restating the rhetoric (as opposed to adherence in our behavior to the principle) it is not hard to delude ourselves to reality.

        thx for the good discussion.