euthansia and palliative care

July 25, 2009

Quebec College of Physicians has officially reopened the debate about euthanasia and assisted suicide with a recommendation of euthanasia for specific cases under very strict guidelines. A distinction needs to be made between euthanasia – a deliberate ending of life to ease suffering, and assisted suicide – ending your life with the help of someone. Although the lines often blur, they should be sharp and distinct.

Doctor Balfour Mount argues that Canadians’ prolonged interest in these topics shows how far Canada is from proper palliative care. Many of our dying suffer great pain in the weeks and months before their death. Dignity is not a word many can use when watching someone slowly and painfully succumb to terminal diseases. Dr. Mount is a cancer patient using the palliative approach so he eats his own dog food so to speak. He argues that euthanasia and assisted suicide is prone to abuse because it is not possible to determine if coercion or guilt was part of the decision-making process. He argues with such passion and respect that you should listen to his interview on CBC Radio.

There are many others who are just as passionate about the right to die – our right to control our own life and bodies. I still believe that we have the right to spend our last days in a dignified manner – whether in palliative care or by ending our suffering. How we control abuse is the question still unanswered.

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