This week’s column is a friendly challenge to doctors, members of parliament, senators, lawyers, and readers. The challenge is to inform me why a simple approach to medical assistance in dying (MAID) would not be fair to all Canadians and also apply to those in the U.S. The solution is, “Let the bracelet decide.”
In June 2016, the Canadian parliament passed a law that allowed medical assistance in dying.
But the law had major flaws. For instance, if an individual is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, or another form of dementia, he or she is not allowed to sign an “advance directive” while the patient is still mentally competent. In effect, a document stating that they want life ended when their brain is comatose, when they’re incontinent of urine and feces, and living in diapers.
Another flaw is that MAID cannot be used until a patient’s death is imminent. This means that patients dying slowly of cancer, dementia and heart failure whose life is a living hell have to suffer for months, even years, before MAID can legally end their lives. No one would treat their loving dog in this cruel inhumane way. So why do we allow it for humans?
But there is a solution to this controversy. It’s an undeniable fact that many people die in unbearable pain. It’s also an undeniable fact that those who oppose MAID for various reasons should be allowed the Freedom of Choice and religious freedom to linger for months even in pain, if they wish to do so. But how can they be assured they have this ultimate right and not be subjected to a death they do not wish?
All it requires is an affidavit signed by those who oppose the law stating that under no circumstances do they ever wish to be associated with medical assistance in dying. To provide further protection, they could wear a bracelet around their wrists stating their opposition. If this is still not sufficient to satisfy their fears, it could be tattooed on their body.
Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of the U.S. Constitution, wrote that “Common sense is the foundation of all authorities, of the laws themselves, and of their construction.”
Ralph Waldon Emerson added, “Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.”
So, let’s hope that everyone will show that good old-fashioned horse sense is not as extinct as the dodo bird. And that good sense can save wasting millions of taxpayer dollars debating this issue, and ultimately end needless suffering.
This column is being sent by email and letter to Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, the ministers of health and justice, all members of the Canadian parliament, and all members of the Canadian Senate.
I’m also asking my medical colleagues, lawyers, and readers to let me know why this common sense approach would not ensure everyone’s right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
But in the current legislation about MAID, it’s vital to inform family members how you personally feel about end of life care. This is why years ago I developed the Gifford-Jones Living Will with Advance Directive. It’s not a legal document, but designed to give direction to my family and doctors how I wish my life to end. To get my point across I added a veterinarian to my committee. I hoped that he or she, would treat me in the same humane way they would end the life a beloved dog who is suffering.
The logic of this controversy escapes me. In our cherished democracy there’s no need for the underlying fear that doctors will end the life of those who wish to live on in spite of continuing pain or disability of one kind or another.
Let the bracelet decide that this problem can be solved by allowing freedom of choice and religious freedom to all. Then we can turn our attention to solving the many other major medical problems that we face in the years ahead.
EDITOR’S NOTE : The column does not constitute medical advice and is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure disease. Please contact your doctor. The information provided is for informational purposes only and are the views solely of the author.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019