Saturday, October 4, 2014

When Does Suffering Begin





Quebec euthanasia law a bad precedent


Farzana Hassan
By , Toronto Sun
First posted: | Updated:




The inescapable problem with any human being’s decision to end his or her own life is that the action is irreversible.
Of all the arguments against euthanasia, this for me is the most compelling.
Granted, many people endure situations that appear to be hopeless, where death will be the inevitable end for someone who is already suffering pain and anguish.
But on rare occasions such situations are resolved without the finality of euthanasia.
Diagnoses have been reversed. Patients thought to be terminally ill or near death have regained their health.
Sun News Network reported this week on the recovery of an eight-year-old British girl named Claudia Burkill, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer three years ago.
It is therefore baffling the Quebec National Assembly has voted overwhelmingly in favour of euthanasia.
Of course, Quebec MPs nominally voted to legalize “Medical Aid in Dying”, as the vague and disingenuous language of Bill 52 terms it.
Everyone knows euthanasia has now been legalized in Quebec.
The federal government has called it such and there is no way to disguise the decision with euphemisms.
Euthanasia legislation in countries like Belgium, whose model Quebec seeks to emulate, has taken their citizens down a dark path.
Two deaf Belgian twins were euthanized after they learned they would also go blind.
A 44-year-old man, who underwent a sex change operation, chose death because of “unbearable psychological suffering” after the surgery went awry.
It’s feasible that psychiatric counseling and medication could have helped this individual emerge from such a depressed state.
The original purpose of euthanasia was to relieve dying patients of unbearable physical pain.
It has now been expanded to include people opting to die because they cannot cope with psychological problems.
To consider death as the answer to all of life’s burdens is not a healthy trend for any society.
A death cult seems to be emerging in countries where euthanasia has been legalized.
Advances in medicine and psychiatry offer the prospects of relieving many types of physical and mental hardships people face in future.
An irreversible decision to die deprives individuals of the opportunity to face their psychological problems and, with help, overcome them.
How can a euthanasia law ensure patients won’t be pressured into it by others, even if they are well-intentioned, for which there is no guarantee?
Perhaps it may become the appropriate and loving thing to do for an ill and elderly parent whose children stand to gain an inheritance, to make a tidy exit with no fuss.
In this way, choosing death can become the norm — even expected.
The Quebec law allows doctors to end the life of patients with “incurable disease, incurable illness which is causing unbearable suffering.”
This is too broad a statement, and contains great scope for abuse.
Chronic back pain could be considered an incurable disease.
The sufferer may mention the possibility of euthanasia at some low point and eventually be pressured into going through with what started as a mere wish the pain would subside.
Laws have been put in place to protect such abuses in medical practice.
Let’s hope the federal government will challenge Quebec’s euthanasia law as unconstitutional.
It runs counter to the medical philosophy of doing no harm.
Its intention of curtailing pain is noble.
However, at the very least, it deprives people of hope, and runs the risk of normalizing voluntary death.
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