In June there was a free vote in Quebec for bill 52 titled “An Act respecting end-of-life care.” The bill states the specific requirements for one to receive “aid in dying”—permission for a physician to administer life-ending drugs to an “end of life” patient. Votes were in favour. The bill was deemed a matter of criminal code (federal level) instead of health care (provincial) and so could not take effect. But the conversation is thick in the air and the Supreme Court is now hearing cases for the legalization of assisted suicide. End of life matters are so much more visible than unborn matters. People are sympathetic because they can see the pain individuals are in. With the same mentality as those who would advise a woman to abort a child with a positive Down Syndrome diagnosis, so too people wish the sick, the dying, the suffering to be able to escape the pain into death. It seems that there is much fear in suffering, in aging. There will always be suffering in the world. But that doesn’t mean that there can’t be good in that suffering. I want to live in a world where we solve problems instead of killing people.
In our pursuit for the protection of life from conception to natural death it seems difficult to discuss “assisted dying.” Seeing someone at the end of their life—suffering—causes much emotional pain. But killing to end pain is such a heart breaking ‘solution.’ To those of us who have had pain in our lives we know that it isn’t about ending our life to stop the pain but receiving love and support from loved ones and health care professionals. Improving how people are treated and viewed is the solution. Love is the solution.
We know there is hope. We know that as we improve palliative care, as we seek to comfort and love the sick and dying, that fewer people desire euthanasia. If people who are treated properly don’t desire euthanasia then the problem can’t be that ‘aid in dying’ isn’t available but that people feel useless, unloved, and burdensome. As we seek to uphold the dignity of life from conception to natural death we must not forget those on the other side of the spectrum. Their lives are being threatened. Instead of killing people let us seek to heal them with all the love and respect we can give.
- by Ashley Vandermeer