The debate on assisted suicide – “There are things worse than death”

By Maureen Coulter
Jan. 30, 2014

Wayne Easter has been in the homes of Islanders who have died a difficult death.
He has had relatives who faced the same situation.
“There are things worse than death.”
But the Island MP still opposes a Quebec bill that would offer medical aid to those who wish to die.
“It’s rifted with danger and open for abuse.”
There should be a good study done in the countries where it’s legal, he said.
Bill 52 was introduced in Quebec’s National Assembly last June. It sparked a debate on whether or not assisted suicide should be legalized in Quebec.
It’s complicated. Health is a provincial responsibility. The federal has authority over criminal law and it does not support euthanasia.
Don Desserud, a political studies professor at UPEI, said he is curious if the federal government will challenge the bill if it passes.
“These types of bills are extremely difficult.”
They are difficult because they usually cause long-term problems, he said.
Most of us can relate to an elderly family member being sick, he said.
“This is one of those bills that garner public sympathy.”
There are only four countries where assisted suicide is legal: Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. Quebec’s bill would follow closely Belgium’s laws on assisted aid in dying.
Assisted suicide has been legal since 2002 in Belgium and two doctors must be involved in the process. A psychologist may be brought in if the patient’s request is in doubt of the doctors. Patients have the option of legal injection or prescribed overdose.
John Warren, vice president of the Dying with Dignity based in Toronto, said he is passionate about this subject.
“I want to have the choice to die at the time of my choosing instead of someone else deciding it for me.”
There are enough regulations and rules of conduct in the Quebec bill that is being proposed, he said.
“There is enough government oversight that it can be implemented and controlled.”
If the bill was to pass, he doesn’t foresee any problems, he said.
If a patient seeks assisted aid in dying, there must be two requests by the patient verbally and one written. Two doctors must certify the person to be a candidate, he said.
“I think the whole key is to consider the fact they have to have consent of the patient.”
Approximately 70 per cent of the people in Oregon who seek help in dying are cancer patients. The law is restricted to individuals in the end of life, he said.
“I don’t think it’s far enough.”
Everyone has their own idea of what “the end of life” means to them, he said.
In Bill 52, the person seeking help dying must be an adult to qualify, he said.
“We (Dying with Dignity) don’t have an opinion on minors.”
There are many Canadians who favour assisted aid in dying and if you are one of those people talk to your local MLA or MP, Warren said.
He has a message for the public.
“To talk about it, to think about it, find out the facts and hear both sides.”

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