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Who Decides?

Episode #348 | Added April 13, 2008

Today, we’re looking at the deeply Christian value of the sanctity of life: All human life. And at end of life decisions. When people can’t speak for themselves – because of disability or illness - who should be allowed to decide when their lives are over? And when values conflict over end-of-life care, whose values should prevail?
We’ll hear from a Canadian ethicist who advises close examination of the broad ranging values underlying such decisions. And we’ll visit with a woman who once thought a quick death was preferable to terminal illness. We'll hear how walking through terminal illness with a loved one - changed her perspective.

Lorna's Wrap


Neil Kravetsky
Lawyer for the Golubchuk family

Articles about the Sam Golubchuk case:

Jim Derkson
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities

Article from CCD in response to Robert Latimer:

Dr. Margaret Somerville
Director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics, and Law

Whether or not a life is worth living is a value-laden judgment. And the values that inform such decisions encompass everything from medical futility to quality of life.
But whose values should take precedence? We spoke with ethicist Dr. Margaret Somerville, from Montreal.

Bev Foster
Professional Musician and Creator of Room 217

Bev Foster, a professional musician, thought that sudden death was preferable. But experiencing the death of her father taught her that terminal illness offers opportunity for love, resolutions and closure. Part of that journey led her to ask over 100 seniors what music they would listen to as they ended their life ...that shaped her collection of music - "Room 217" - what she describes as “Music for Life’s Journey.”

“Knowing we are ready for what happens after our death is it just as big a moral question as when do I die?” Websites to help you on your journey…



Robert Latimer wants another trial. The Saskatchewan farmer who spent 7 years in prison for murdering his 12-year-old daughter Tracy, moved to a half-way house in Ottawa recently. He’s said he’ll remain there, until he can press his case with federal officials.
He’s always labeled the killing of his severely disabled daughter an act of mercy, and his second-degree murder conviction a travesty of justice. But disabled rights activists – and Canadian courts - disagreed.
Meanwhile a Canadian precedent in Manitoba where the College of Physicians and Surgeons says doctors have the authority to make medical decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a patient, without the consent of the patient or their family.
It’s a reality that sent the family of 84-year-old Samuel Golubchuk to court. Because when doctors at Winnipeg’s Grace Memorial Hospital sought to disconnect Samuel from the ventilator that was helping him breathe, his family had to get an injunction to continue their father’s treatment.

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