If I were an old lady, say…102 years old? And I was suffering from cancer and an assortment of other illnesses that had robbed me of my dignity and my will to live. I gather all my family around my hospital bed and choke out some words to them. In that difficult moment, I tell them that I’m tired of the state I’m in. I’m not really living if I can’t see the world and take care of myself. I tell them I want to pull the plug. What then?
Do they accept my decision gracefully and respectfully and honour my wish to let go of what little remains of my life?
Or do they tell me that suicide is wrong and leave me to lie in pain in my hospital bed until I pass away without any respect for myself?
In Canada, assisted suicide is illegal, which suicide is not. It is a crime to help someone with something that is not a crime. That’s like it being illegal to help someone walk their dog. But on a larger scale…y’know.
When someone passes a certain point, when they lose their hope and are only left with pain and emptiness, when they live their life in a hospital bed hooked up to various machines that are the only things linking them to life, when someone reaches that point, they deserve to choose their own future, no matter what anyone else says.
That doesn’t mean they should be allowed to take a vial of poison in secret with only one witness and no proof of consent. It means that there should be laws governing how this works. It should be out in the open and have information available to everyone who wants it. There should be clear rules and distinctions between what is legal and what isn’t.
I don’t know about the government, and I don’t know about what the individual parties think, but here’s what I think,
I think Belgium’s got it right so far.
Two physicians must be present, as well as a psychologist in case of mental competence doubts.
My personal beliefs are as follows:
I agree with Belgium’s requiring doctors and psychologists.
Family members must be notified and allowed to present an argument, but not make a counter decision for the patient.
The patient must have a terminal illness with minute to no possibility of recovery.
The patient must be in pain but still be capable of competent thought.
Depending on the age of the patient, it’s probably best if they’re not depressed.
If someone is in pain and without hope, it’s not fair to force them to continue in their half-existence against their own wishes. If I am able to recognize my situation, and realise that the life I’m living isn’t any better than rotting in the ground, I should be allowed to choose my future.
No one else can decide your destiny. Only you. And if you live to be 90 years old, with a life full of love, happiness, and joy, and are then confined to a hospital bed with no hope of recovery, if you want to preserve your dignity and end your life on your own terms, power to you, I salute you and hope that there’s something wonderful waiting for you on the other side.