Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sign the Petition

Assisted Suicide: Sign the Petition

Citizens of all countries are free to sign this petition. My politics, for the record, are left and centrist. I believe in a view of society that is not simply utilitarian: every sentient life deserves our protection and care. My focus is not religious or moral — I am not religious — it is about the risk assisted suicide poses for the disabled and the elderly. 

When it comes to assisted suicide, I am a conscientious objector. Like those who oppose war, I oppose killing, even when it’s ‘mercy killing’. This is because I feel that mercy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Vulnerable individuals in our healthcare system may die prematurely — if we stop valuing their lives, we send the wrong message to policy-makers and healthcare workers.
It almost happened to my mother. It is now 2014 and she is still alive, even though we were strongly urged to ‘let her go’ in 2008. After going public with our hospital experience and speaking to other Canadian families, I discovered we were not alone. The elderly in Canada (and the U.K. and U.S.) are often hastened toward death, even when they are not terminally ill. I have spoken to many family members who believe this has happened to a parent or grandparent. 
Our Canadian government and national media outlets are not allowing for a full discussion of all the risks of assisted suicide. Attempts to do so have been discouraged and our arguments are not reaching the wider public. Even our nation’s broadcaster, the CBC, is unwilling to be impartial. It seems a concerted effort is being made to ‘manufacture consent’ in favour of assisted suicide.
A frank discussion about its risks is in order. 
Allowing our nation’s healthcare workers — physicians and nurses — to euthanize patients endangers all of us. And so I am a conscientious objector: I do not want a system that endangers my life and the lives of others. Canada is a first world nation and we have the resources to manage illnesses humanely. Patients have the right to refuse treatment or to ask for terminal sedation; good options already exist. 
I’m not sure what actions will follow from this petition, but objecting is a start. We need to get talking.