We have done this subject before but it keeps popping up again and again.  Yesterday the Royal Society released a report by a panel of experts arguing that some form of asssisted suicide be permitted in Canada – even for those who have not been diagnosed with a terminal illness, because such patients may suffer terribly and permanently.

The Globe and Mail commented on the report:  “Canadians who want to die with dignity should not have to engage in expensive and emotionally wrenching court battles for the right to do so.  ”  The Globe urges the Harper government to decrimalize euthansia and assisted suicide, as several otheer jurisdictions have already done, including the Netherlands, Oregon, Switzerland and Belgium.

Consider this case.  A 55-year-old woman is admitted to hospital in severe pain with pancreatic cancer.  Doctors are unable to ease her suffering.  Her family asks her doctor to put her under deep and continuous sedation, as  they believe she woulde desire if she were competent to make the decision, and refuse artificially feeding her or giving her liquid.

Should the doctor follow the family’s request for deep sedation?

The Canadian Medical Association opposed legalizing euthanasia.

McGill ethicist, Margarete Somerville, is also opposed citing the “slippery slope” argument.

Is there a danger here.  What about those numerous deathly ill patients who are costing thousands of precious health care dollars and do not make any contribution to the economy?

Should euthanisia, with proper safeguards, be legalized?


  1. 1

    No to euthanasia. Yes to assisted suicide.

    And of course the CMA doesn’t like it: when a patient dies, they can’t make any more money from him!

  2. 2

    If I understand correctly-
    Assisted suicide is when the patient is cogniscent, and terminal, and requests an injection or other means, when there is no hope. I agree with that.
    Euthanasia is when the decision is made by the family or the doctor? I would agree only if a group of professionals find there is no hope & if the person has a living will request.

    Is there another category, when life lines are removed (feeding tubes, oxygen)?

    I can see where this law could be abused, but if I had an unbearable illness, I would want to be assisted out of my misery.

  3. 3

    It always seems that people in relatively good health cannot imagine living in what they think are intolerable conditions ,whether those conditions may be incarceration, poor health,or any number of situatuons. But,when finding themselves in the extreme , most people do their best to survive.

    And survive is what many people do. Or,they find something useful in their last days,some value. so, if a person wants to end his own life,we really cannot stop hem. But to enlist the help of ohers , no,that should remain illegal.

  4. 4

    Why, Phil? What do you fear?

  5. 5
    Neil McKenty Says:

    What I fear is the temptation to off vulnerable people who no longer can make a contribution to society and are using up thousands of scartce health dollars.

  6. 6

    First, Neil`s point is valid. We can`t go around assesing people` value to society.

    Second , it isn`t a question of fear , but of human potential. I have no idea of your health,or situation, lady janus, but sitting in our living room,figuring that life is good and how we would never tolerate anything less badly underestimates our resiliance as human beings.
    In three seperate books I read references to a Victor Frankl,who survived Auscwitz and all its horrors by retreating into his mind , and focussing on what he would teach in his psychology class WHEN he got out. He survived, and resumed his career.

    I`m a bit more upbeat than most people , but I believe we all have resources, and I don`t want to give up on those resources untill the ned.

  7. 7

    Phils: You are absolutely right on every single point.
    Thanks for reminding us.
    Humans do fight valiantly to survive.

  8. 8

    Neil and Phil: All of which is why we should say no to euthanasia and simply allow assisted suicide. There IS a difference, you know. And the difference is all in who makes that decision.

    You have no right to decide who, other than yourself, is worthy of life or death. Neither do you have the right to deny that option to someone who is making that judgement for himself. The biggest argument for assisted suicide is that the handicapped have no access to it, but the able-bodied do. And in that sense, denying assisted suicide is racist — a term which has, unfortunately, come to mean negatively discriminatory on all grounds and not just on ethnicity.

  9. 9

    Lady J. , you`re right, the able -bodied can do what they will. In fact,to make some some point,do you remember that fellow a few years back, Guy Waterman ? He was very able-bodied. But he was also depressed. So, one February day, he climbed up Mt. Jefferson ,in the NH Presidential range, and let himself die of exposure. He had told his wife of his plans,though I don`t recall any word of her trying to stop him.

    If somebody like him wants to end it all,then we can`t effectively stop them. But, in order to save those like him, we can`t help the crippled end their own lives,either.

  10. 10
    Jim Says:

    If I wanted to do myself in, I would never want to involve another person to assist me.. It would be unfair and it may even be illegal. I would know long ahead about the trend of my medical situation. I would stock up on items that would put out my flame. There are a myriad of other ways to do IT. However I think I would like to take someone with me when I go. Someone unwilling, like Sandusky.

  11. 11

    Phil, what right do you think you have to “save” someone who clearly does NOT wish it? You are, in effect, declaring that you know better than someone else what he should “want” and what is “good” for him.

  12. 12
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Victor Frankl wrote a marvellous book entitled The Search for Meaning.

  13. 13

    Neil, lots of people wrote lots of wonderful books. And some even wrote on the opposing side of things. We each need to be able to make those very personal decisions for ourselves. Nobody else is qualified to make them on our behalf!

  14. 14

    Lady J.,I`m not saying that I, or anybody,should be allowed to save you if you don`t wish it.

    But ,being human,we assume that people want to be helped,if they are sick or injured. If we come across somebody about to jump from a height,we try to talk them back. If we come across an accident scene, even if a victim says ` let me die`,we try to help them live .This is what I call saving somebdy.

    Some people who are deathly ill .but able to express themselves can and do refuse treatment. Their wishes are respected.

    But, to ask me to help you would be asking me to commit murder. and that crosses the line.

  15. 15

    scratch that first sentence …editor`s night off

  16. 16

    Phil, I’m sure that, knowing how you feel, no one would ask you to help them die. I sure wouldn’t. But your fear and aversion does not hold for everyone, so why would you want to put roadblocks in the way of those who don’t feel as you do?

    “Being allowed” to refuse treatment is not only passive, it is downright torture. WHY would you be willing to force someone to suffer simply because you don’t like the thought of his being comfortable with his own death? And why would you stop anyone from helping him if he needs it and that someone is willing?

  17. 17

    I am firmly on LadyJanus’ side in this. She has made excellent points and I agree with all of them.

    Jim wrote: “I would know long ahead about the trend of my medical situation. I would stock up on items that would put out my flame.”

    That sounds like you’re all ready for your natural declining health… but what about the car accident you can’t plan for?
    I just don’t think everyone is able to prepare for the end the way you think you will be able to Jim… accidents ~do~ happen.

  18. 18
    Jim Says:

    joe – I do not have any medical problems to warrant my preparing for my suicide or my murder. You, on the other hand, had to go to the bottom of the barrel to get that chestnut about being in pain after surviving a car accident, which happens under 1% of the time. Joe, your a pain. How are you going to handle that?

  19. 19

    Jim wrote: “I do not have any medical problems to warrant my preparing for my suicide or my murder.”

    I realize that. But what makes you think you’ll eventually die from natural causes with plenty of time to plan and prepare? That’s a happy way to think of it, but not a realistic one.

    The point about a car accident is that you can’t plan/prepare for such an event. You could be as healthy as possible and still wake up in that tragic position.

    The way I read your comment was that you believed that people should prepare properly when the end of the line is imminent. Like everybody has that option.

    I’m not sure what the “bottom of the barrel” has to do with anything though…

  20. 20
    Jim Says:

    Joe – The bottom of the barrel means that you have exhausted all points in the discussion except for one. The one you chose will happen only 1% of the time, for which I will take my chsnces

  21. 21
    sheilagh Says:

    Some very interesting comments here. Slippery slope argument is wrong if one looks at history in the Netherlands and Oregon, to name two places where assisted suicide is legal. There are protocols in both places that protect the vulnerable and the percentage of those who either take their own lives or are helped to do so, is very small. It’s a matter of choice and freedom, as far as I’m concerned, and as Sue Rodriguez said 10 years ago, “whose body is this anyway”? New legislation in B.C at this time may change things but I doubt our parliamentarians are prepared to change laws. Perhaps the next generation will see the decent legislation currently in place in the Netherlands, Oregon, Washington, Belgium and Switzerland.

  22. 22
    Neil McKenty Says:


    Thank you for your informed comment on euthanasia.

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