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A Sorta-Kinda Win on Assisted Suicide

André Schutten – We posted a note here a couple of weeks ago about a court case in B.C. challenging the criminal prohibition against assisted suicide in Canada. Yesterday, a different right-to-die group had their case tossed. But it’s a small cause for celebration. The judge who tossed their case did so because the plaintiffs were anonymous. However, Justice Smith still encouraged the same group to join in on another case that she is also hearing, in which the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is challenging the same criminal prohibition:

Russel Ogden, a founding director of the Farewell Foundation, said he was encouraged by the invitation to intervene by [Justice] Smith, who is also overseeing the BCCLA case.

“I would compare it to someone in a race who knocks over a hurdle,” Ogden said. “It hurts a bit, you lose a few seconds, but you’re still in the race. You don’t give up.” [Read more]

There is much work to be done, in B.C. and in the rest of the country, to open people’s eyes to the reality that life is not in our hands, that God is the giver and taker of life, that allowing assisted suicide changes us from a caring society to a killing society, that it creates a social reality wherein the right to die very quickly becomes the obligation to die. Furthermore, the focus of medicine shifts from ending suffering through palliative care to ending suffering by ending life. Advances and research in palliative care slow and eventually stop.

With an aging population, these are all very scary possibilities indeed. In fact, there has been much in the news lately (see here for example) about the the baby boomers beginning to retire, and how our country will go from having 6 workers for every senior to 3 workers for every senior in the near future. To be crass, allowing the right to die and physician-assisted suicide alleviates this problem a little, doesn’t it? The elderly will begin to believe that they are a burden on society and that they ought to end it. This is a terrible, but very real possibility. 

Those bringing these court cases argue from the perspective of the individual sufferer who cannot bear the thought of their last weeks and months. And it is terrifying. From what I’ve heard, ALS (which is what the plaintiff suffers from) is a brutal disease. But by arguing from the individual rights perspective, those in court fail to see the communal ramifications. Much is at stake. Spread the word.

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