Life is like a movie. There should be few restrictions to changing channels.

This whole subject of assisted dying is getting way beyond the realm of reason and very much immersed in emotion.  The problem is that the subject is constantly being inter weaved with religious overtones, subtle or overt.

Recently the Archbishop of Toronto professed the need for better palliative care as an “option” to assisted dying.  What any kind of palliative care (high quality or low quality) has to do with a person’s right to ‘check out’ is a mystery to me.

Like …if we make dying more fun in a palliative setting, people will want to stick around suffering a little longer?  …or the indignity people are suffering through, will somehow become less undignified?

Apparently the Archbishop is supported by 5,000 doctors who believe in the “sanctity of life” and stand in solidarity against assisted dying.  Has anyone asked what 5,000 plumbers think?  Or what 10,000 carpenters think?

First of all, whether life is imbued with any kind of sanctity or not is a matter of personal perspective/faith/belief etc.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but please let us not impose our beliefs on others who may not share them.

Second, what do doctors have to do with any of this?  Doctors are trained to treat disease and to preserve life.  Why on earth have we got them involved with ending life under any circumstances whatsoever?  No wonder there is resistance to assisted dying from doctors, it’s like asking farmers to burn crops, or architects to demolish buildings; they are just not that inclined to do it.

Suicide is not a crime.  For many people with completely rational minds, sometimes they just want out.  Like going to the theatre and finding out that you can’t stand the movie.  Do you sit there and watch the thing to the end just because you paid for the ticket? …or do you cut your losses and get up and leave?

Although admittedly committing suicide is a profound and personal decision, the act of asking someone else to assist in the ending of one’s life is something else.   This is a huge issue, as taking someone else’s life is a highly scrutinized matter in modern society.  This is why we recognize the difference among first & second degree murder and manslaughter as strict qualifiers when a life is taken.  It matters big time how a human life is taken.

To assist someone else in taking his/her life must be characterized, and pass strict 100% scrutiny as the acting out of someone else’s wishes…someone who for some/any reason is unable to do it themselves.

If the state continues to put impediments in front of a person’s choice to decide how or when to end one’s life, this could actually cause a shortening of life in general.  People who have a grave illness will be afraid to let the illness take them to a point where they would be unable to end their own life easily; they could end up terminating their life prematurely whilst they retain the capability to end it when they choose.  This cannot be a desirable consequence of all this meddling in the life/death of others.

The terms of life are especially also ones of personal choice.  Some people adapt heroically to grave disabilities like quadriplegia or blindness and go on to lead happy and productive lives on their own terms.  They are to be congratulated.

But for some people many choose to not live life out under circumstances of their own choosing, especially if they are diagnosed with a chronic deteriorating condition which limits their abilities to live life on their own terms.

Science has done a great job of prolonging life, but it has done a poor job of extending living.  If anything, the last years of life are often anything but living…more like some form of purgatory, but without the pleasures of a committed sin.

The state’s role in the process of dying must be restricted to protect the rights of all its citizens, and at once to ensure that the moral/religious/ethical perspectives of none of its citizens impede on the rights of other citizens.  The Americans have a great expression for this, “The tyranny of the majority”.

Doctors should play no role in the process of assisted dying.  Preserving life under difficult circumstances takes great skill and doctors are critical; ending life is a relatively simple process & doctors are not needed.  There are more effective and simpler solutions.

There are only two legal methods for inducing the end of life:  lethal injection and drinking a specifically designed barbiturates cocktail.  Neither one of these procedures is exactly rocket science.   If anything, they are technical in nature and only require tight protocols and a high degree of professional accuracy.  Clearly pharmacists are much better suited to providing the second procedure at least from an educational perspective.

Point being, there are many other options to effecting the desired results which do not involve physicians, the clergy, or an overabundance of politicians.

 

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