Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Letter-writer Anneke Jansen thinks her two severely disabled sons would be better off dead (Bring An End To My Children’s ‘So-Called’ Life, Nov. 23). I give thanks every day that my disabled twin brother is alive.
Due to complications at birth, he is still in diapers and fed via a feeding tube even though he’s 39. He gets around in a wheelchair only when pushed by someone else. He can’t talk, and yet, he has taught me more about what it means to be human than anyone else I know.
Though the euthanasia question is framed in the language of choice and personal autonomy, the legalization of assisted suicide endangers those with no voice.
In Belgium, one-third of euthanasia deaths done by doctors occur without the explicit request of the person killed, according to a 2010 study of euthanasia in Belgium. Why? Some doctors decided for the patient that euthanasia was the best option. Though hard to believe, others thought the conversation about dying would be too stressful for the patient, so they killed them instead.
In Switzerland, a 23-year-old rugby player, paralyzed as a result of a training accident, was depressed. Who wouldn’t be? He was euthanized despite research that shows people with a spinal cord injury can and do create a satisfying quality of life with time and proper societal and family support.
Reports from the Netherlands indicate that 500 people died without their consent in 2005 alone. A woman in the advanced stages of dementia was recently euthanized there. A long-time supporter of euthanasia, doctors killed her even though she was incapable of deciding for or against the euthanasia decision at the time of her death.
By Brian Purdy - Calgary Herald - November 28, 2011
Suicide is legal, assisting it is not. The debate about the legalization of assisting suicide is in the news again, with another court case approaching the Supreme Court of Canada.
There are two points of view. The first is that every person has a right to end one's own life, so why should it not be legal to assist someone to do so? A person at the end of life can get help to end suffering and an unbearable dwindling away to an inevitable end. Why should a doctor or anyone else be made a criminal for an act of mercy?
The second view is that legalizing assisting a suicide is a dangerous slippery slope. Lord Acton, who famously said "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," also said something else about power. He said, "do not grant powers on the assumption they will not be abused." Those who take the second view think that legalizing assisting suicide would lead to the likes of "Dr. Death" Jack Kevorkian not only assisting but encouraging people to commit suicide, often in highly inappropriate cases. It might lead to "suicide parlours" where depressed but otherwise healthy people could have a final lethal cocktail. Doctors might rid themselves of long term comatose patients without proper consent. Licia Corbella has pointed out in these pages that a very large number of patients in the Netherlands have been terminated by their doctors without any consent by the patient.
When my mother died years ago, she was old, and in a hospital bed for the last 18 months. Before that, for years, she hadn't been able to care for herself. No one could say she was productive in her last years. There was constant, expensive care.
After she died, I thought again about intervention to end the life of people like Mother, who dwindle into a prolonged dying. She had, after all, been declining for years. Should she have been put out of her misery?
Well, she wasn't miserable, as far as anyone knows. She had strokes and couldn't talk for the last two years, but didn't seem to be in pain.
Besides, who would make that decision to end Mother's life? Me?
Another family member? Hell no. We stood to profit by inheriting her estate. And, we could eliminate our burden of care. Either way, definite conflict of interest, no matter how good the intentions.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
By Diane Coleman, Calgary Herald - November 23, 2011
Re: "Trapped alive," Letter, Nov. 21.
James G. Swanson's letter demonstrates the profound devaluation that too many feel toward those of us with severe physical disabilities. Swanson describes his father and a friend, disabled by an accident and ALS, respectively, as "trapped" and "condemned to a life in hell." Social messages that one is "better off dead than disabled" permeate society, including our families.
Swanson's solution to the so-called problem of disability is assisted suicide. Like most, he hasn't noticed the difference between suicide and assisted suicide. Apparently, he doesn't think it matters if someone's family views their life as devoid of quality. There's no sign of concern that we might feel that our existence is a burden to those closest to us. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities rightly opposes assisted suicide. A society that not only agrees with a disabled person's suicide, but guarantees that our suicide attempt results in death, is not treating us as equals. We deserve the same suicide prevention as everybody else, not a streamlined path to death.
Diane Coleman, Rochester, N.Y. Diane Coleman is the founder of the disability rights organization Not Dead Yet.