The ongoing issue of doctor assisted death

It’s been aptly said that, ‘Wars are too important to be left to Generals’.

I would add that assisted death is too important to be left to politicians and doctors. One of the first columns that I wrote 41 years ago was titled, ‘Why cab drivers are smarter than doctors’.

I was convinced then that on social issues taxicab drivers had more common sense than many in the medical profession. Now, looking at the unadulterated mess surrounding assisted death, I realize I was right 41 years ago. Now I would add bartenders, plumbers and those that pick up our garbage.

I also wrote years ago that the problems of society are caused by so-called intelligent people who are largely fools. I have not changed my mind.

Why should I?

Politicians have had months to get their act together to legalize doctor assisted death. Surely they should realize that while this debate continues, patients are suffering from a variety of diseases and often dying in misery. I can guarantee you that if politicians had a loved one crying out in pain they would move with the speed of lightning.

But is the problem that difficult?

After all, politicians have not been presented with a problem in astrophysics. In fact, the solution has already been handed to them on a silver platter. Studies show that that the majority of Canadian citizens are in favour of doctor assisted death. Doesn’t that ring a democratic bell?

A recurring objection is that the disabled must be protected.

I agree. But as I have said previously, if the disabled do not want assisted death, let them say so in an advance directive such as a living will. Then wear a wrist-band stating they want no part of it. That should end the discussion.

What about the contentious issue of advance directive that is causing a delay in this legislation? I believe a group of taxicab drivers, a few bartenders and my garbage man would decide this issue in a second. Namely, that those who are still mentally sound have the right to say, “If I develop Alzheimers disease or another disabling condition that leaves me non compus mentis, I demand my life be ended.”

Then there is the discussion of how ill and how close to the pearly gates you have to be before lethal injection is legal.

Does it ever occur to politicians and my esteemed colleagues that it might be a reasonable idea to let patients decide when they have had enough pain? Who owns their body anyway?

During this debate I’ve received tons of responses from readers, 90% of whom are favour of doctor assisted death.

Many of these responses come from families who have seen the end-of-life suffering that goes on day after day.

Because of this overwhelming response from readers, I contacted several senators.

One who shares readers’ opinions agreed to distribute my column on doctor assisted death to every senator. So what has happened? By a 41 to 30 vote, the Senate agreed the legislation should be broadened by scrapping the requirement that a patient must be close to death to be eligible for doctor assisted demise.

That’s good news. But it is depressing that 30 senators either were happy with this ineffective legislation or even worse, wanted it to be more restrictive.

And from past experience we know that such contrary views are invariably related to ethical and religious views.

I do not know how this debate will end.

But I do know that if there is a higher court in the Great Beyond it will condemn doctors, politicians, ethicists, do-gooders and all the rest for allowing human suffering to continue needlessly and endlessly.

I’m also convinced that a panel of taxicab drivers, bartenders and garbage collectors, to name a few, would not have required over a year to reach a prudent decision.

And that the decision would be that we should all have the right to say ‘I own my own body’.

Amen!

See the web site at www.docgiff.com. For comments, email info@docgiff.com.

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