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June 22, 2012
Steve Passmore

I am concerned about my safety if euthanasia and assisted suicide were legal in Canada:
 
On Friday, June 15, Justice Lynn Smith in Vancouver BC, decided in the Carter case, to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. She decided that the current laws that prohibit assisted suicide infringe upon the Charter of Rights and Freedoms section that ensures that my life, liberty and security of the person is protected in Canadian law.
 
Smith not only got it wrong, her decision is the opposite of reality.
 
I have lived my life as a person with Cerebral Palsy. My experience as a person with a visible disability is that people do not treat me with equality value and acceptance.
 
As a child I experienced more than a dozen surgeries. These surgeries were incredibly difficult, but they gave me a chance to live.
 
I now have a scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, and I suffer with pain everyday. If suffering becomes a reason for euthanasia, then I will fear for my life.
 
I have been involved with opposing euthanasia since the death of Tracy Latimer in 1993. I am an advocate who opposes euthanasia because I love vulnerable people. Many people with disabilities, like Tracy Latimer are vulnerable and lack a voice. I have a voice.
 
Justice Smith stated in her decision that she found “no evidence of inordinate impact on vulnerable populations.”
 
Justice Smith must have been very selective in her research because she obviously missed the study from the Canadian Medical Association Journal (May 2010) that found that 32% of euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were without request or consent.
 
In Oregon the assisted suicide law contains a provision to safe-guard physicians who practice assisted suicide. The provision states that no person will be subject to any form of legal liability, whether civil or criminal if they act in good faith. In an ironic twist, assisted suicide physicians in Oregon are safer from liability if they cause a patients’ death than if they provide his or her medical treatment.
 
I am convinced that if euthanasia becomes accepted by society, that over a short period of time the attitudes will go from voluntary euthanasia for people who suffering to euthanasia to end the lives of the sufferer.
 
When euthanasia was legalized in the Netherlands, it was supposed to be a rare event to be resorted to only in the most unusual cases of intolerable suffering. The guidelines were designed specifically to keep euthanasia occurrences few and far between by establishing demanding conditions that had to be met at the risk of criminal prosecution.
 
Over time however, the conditions began to be interpreted loosely and they were ignored. Rather than being rare euthanasia has become a routine medical practice.
 
I have always thought that our greatest need was visibility, to be seen and heard. Although those are great needs there is a greater need and that is for people to listen to us.
 
We need a society that recognizes people with disabilities as having equality, value and acceptance, but we first need a society that recognizes the importance of protecting our right to live.
 

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Steve Passmore is an advocate with the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition 



Comments

As much as I sympathize with your situation, I don't believe that you have an appropriate perspective. You haven't gotten to the point yet where the pain is so much that you beg to die, and therefore your perspective, although accurate for your current circumstances, is hurting those people who have advanced in their disease to the point where they wake up and hope to die. They beg their loved ones to kill them, they beg the nurses and doctors, and even scream at them to help them go... When you have been beside loved ones in that condition, then and only then do you have a voice. Until then, no matter what minority you are in, you have no understanding of the facts and the emotions and the needs of the person asking for mercy, mercy and peace. My grandfathers organs started to shut down and his pain was unbearable. He begged and cried for the nurses, doctor and even his wife to put him out of his misery. This man had never begged a day in his life. Then my own father. I watched him waste away to nothing with cancer, he suffered in a living death (because it wasn't living), A LIVING DEATH, for over a year until he passed away because no one would help him. Instead he had to die terrified and in pain until the end. My grandmother was in so much pain from cancer that she was actually vomiting up fecal matter, a dignified woman, now screaming as excrement came out of her mouth. The pain was unbearable and she begged the doctors to help her die. All while surrounded by those who loved her, who would have helped, but couldn't, because to give mercy to a loved one, to give them peace and end their pain, would send us to jail. And so we looked on in shame because we weren't willing to go to jail for our loved one even though they were in the worst fear and pain of their lives. And this, this was their last moments. With assisted suicide, our sick loved ones can once again have dignity and control over their lives. When the pain is too much and they feel it's time to go, we can all smile through our tears, we can say our goodbyes, they can go to sleep without fear, only feeling the love of their friends and families. They can go in peace instead of going in so much pain that it is as bad or worse than torture. Something we would never consider doing to a criminal we allow to happen passively to our loved ones. You tell me what is more criminal... forcing upon them a torturous death? Or allowing them to go surrounded with love, peace, and without fear... you need to see with your own eyes, someone begging to die... because after all I have seen, I live in a nightmare where it will be me someday suffering like that, and no one will be able to help me because of near sighted folks that don't want to face the truth of it, the truth that assisted suicide, when done for the right reason, is a gift. You mention the Latimer case in your article as an example of assisted suicide, but this was a very poor example of what is trying to go through in the courts. Her father took matters into his own hands, without her consent, and outside of the medical community, whereas in the cases being brought to the courts we are looking at medically assisted suicide by the choice of the actual sufferer. Their life and their death should be their choice to make. That should be their constitutional right as a free person. What right have YOU got to deny them dignity in their passing? I understand the need to ensure that this procedure is not abused, and perhaps that is what you should be more focused on and fighting for, instead of trying to take the choice away entirely. You do not speak for all people suffering with chronic and painful illnesses. Perhaps you should take the time to visit some of the people dying on Palliative care wards while suffering with chronic pain and disease, and ask their opinion to gain a wider perspective on this issue before you continue down this path. I understand that to you, you are only trying to defend people you feel are vulnerable. However, the most vulnerable of us are the ones actually in the process of dying, and for them you are ensuring nothing but pain, fear and agony until the end. While trying to “save” one minority, you are damning everyone suffering in death. A group many of us will become a part of at some point. For me, I don’t want to suffer at the end. I want to live my life knowing that if I have to ever face what my family has faced, that there will be a quieter, more peaceful way out. Not only for me, but for my loved ones left behind. I imagine if it became legal you would see a lot more people sighing in relief that if their time comes they won't have to suffer any longer than THEY choose. And that is the point to freedom. It's my body, why do you get to choose how I die, what gives you that right over me? If I am suffering and it makes my life become a living death, who are you to put rules in place that prevent me from escaping this awful end to find a more peaceful way to go? Who are you to decide my fate? Why are you trying? What gives you the right to speak on behalf of those who are currently crying out for freedom from their agony. Ask yourself why you are fighting this fight, and if you are you fighting for the right people. I think not.
July 13, 2012 | Brandy

I feel that if you have not gone through the experience of watching someone dying you can't be the judge. I watched my Mother suffer for eight long months with her asking me for help to end her suffering, she said "We treat our pets better, you sure would'nt watch them suffer", to this day I still feel guilty......who know better than the person dying - not you that's for sure. My friend just died last year with ALS - would you say that he didn't have the right to choose, he begged to be helped - his mind was sound his body broken - no one would listen. Just watch your fifty year old brother screaming in pain with stage four bone cancer and you may have a change of heart
June 24, 2012 | Carol Cull


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