Following up on last week’s post on MAiD, this week I offer four more links covering three perspectives.
Canadians with Disabilities
“We should not be offering wider access to euthanasia until every Canadian that needs it has a truly viable option: access to excellent palliative care (only accessible to 30 per cent of us) or optimal life assistance for the disabled. But C-7 will, shamefully, make Canada one of the most MAiD-friendly countries in the world.”
– Barbara Kay, “Wider access to assisted dying in Canada willbe catastrophic for the disabled,” National Post
“When life-ending interventions are normalized for people who are not terminally ill or suffering at the end of their lives, such legislative provisions tend to rest on ““ or draw strength from ““ ableist assumptions about the inherent ‘quality of life’ or ‘worth’ of the life of a person with a disability,” they say in a statement issued Monday by the UN Human Rights Council. “Disability is not a burden or a deficit of the person. It is a universal aspect of the human condition,” they add.
– Joan Bryden, “UN human rights experts alarmed by trend toward assisted dying for non-terminal conditions,” Globe and Mail
Canadians with Mental Illness & BIPOC Canadians
“In the next few weeks, people from all sides of this debate will bring personal testimony to bear. And whether they support or oppose the expansion of MAID, a simple truth remains: This is a country that continues to fail in respecting the humanity of people with disabilities. And rather than find strength of character to improve ourselves, the Canadian government is set to fall back on egregious historical precedent by offering death instead. Where, I ask, is the dignity in that?”
– Andray Domise, “Canada’s proposed expansion of assisted-death threatens to push the mentally ill out the door,” Globe and Mail
“On assisted death, the rights of the patient have been the primary focus of lawmakers, regulators, courts, academics and the media to a degree that has obscured and eroded other fundamental interests at stake — specifically, the freedom not to participate in killing.”
– Brian Bird and Christina Lamb, “Assisted dying legislation must reconcile the rights of those who object to the practice,” National Post
(Dr. Bird is an assistant professor in the Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC; Dr. Lamb is a bioethicist and assistant professor in the faculty of nursing at the UofA.)
As I understand it, tradition with the indigenous people was to allow their elderly to simply walk out into the wilderness to die. This was their choice and they did it because their life was ending. They wanted it to end with dignity – I believe. Now the indigenous people say that this is no longer part of their culture. Which is it???
Marv – I don’t know if those traditions reflect reality. I can imagine that the details of what it means to die with dignity might have changed as access to medical care has changed. And I can imagine that some people might be OK with giving someone access to assistance in dying without wanting to be the person who does it.
I’m sorry that we seem to disagree on this MAiD issue. Joan chose not to pursue the MAiD option, although in her last two days I think she might have changed her mind, if she had the chance. I don’t know what I shall choose, when the time comes.
But for me the fundamental principle is not whether it is RIGHT to let someone choose to end their life, but whether anyone else has the right to make that decision for them.
It seems to me just as wrong for someone else to decree that I may NOT end my life voluntarily as to decree that I MUST end my life. I’ve read several articles arguing that disabled people (for whatever reason, including age) will feel pressure to end their lives. But that again presumes that someone else, someone other than the person most directly involved, is imposing their will on the person.
We hold that the ultimate wrong is murder — the killer imposes his will on the victim. Is it not just as wrong for a doctor, say, to decide on behalf of a patient, that I will not let you die? That I will use all technologies possible to keep you alive, even against your will? And is not equally wrong for a dying patient to demand that his/her doctor assist them out of this world, even if the doctor has moral scruples?
Surely the point is that the person most directly involved — be it the terminally ill patient, the patient’s doctor, the physically or mentally handicapped individual, the accident victim — should have the right to make the decision. Or, negatively put, that said person should not have the decision made for him/her by a less involved person or institution.
I could broaden the principle to some other issues, but I won’t.
Jim T – I’m not sure we disagree. All I’m doing here is trying to present different perspectives that made me think a little harder. One problem I see with MAiD is that individuals *can* be pressured to decide – either way. Another is that the decision to use MAiD necessarily involves at least one other person – and how do we protect those who think that’s wrong from being pressured to participate without having to give up their occupation completely? My own instincts tend less to the parsing of rights, as important as it is to do that thoughtfully, and more to trying to enhance our palliative capabilities/accessibility so that people have an option to live as long as they can (and want to) without being in intolerable-to-them pain (mental or physical).