Friday, September 20, 2013

Euthanasia: Societal Psychosis

The following article was published in the Windsor Star on September 20, 2013.

By: Jean Echlin, a nurse consultant in palliative nursing who lives in Windsor Ontario.

What kind of a society are we becoming? I question the existence of a societal psychosis, characterized by a break with reality and deviation from normal thought processes.

We abandon the notion of executing our most heinous criminals and now appear to be accepting the idea of executing our most vulnerable citizens.

We provide our criminals with good medical, occupational, entertainment and educational programs for their betterment.

In the case of our elderly we often fail miserably at providing them with quality of life in our health-care institutions. Many label our elderly and persons with disabilities, including children, as “lives not worth living.”

In addition this applies to persons with mental health issues. These are the ones at high risk for abuse if euthanasia is introduced.

This is exactly what the Quebec National Assembly is proposing in Bill-52 now before the Assembly for discussion and vote. The ideas were concocted by the Dying with Dignity Committee report following a request by the Assembly for research regarding euthanasia and assisted suicide in Quebec.

The recommendation in Bill-52 attaches euthanasia as a component of palliative hospice care. The euphemism used for euthanasia in their documents is “assistance in dying.”

Thus end-of-life care will include both palliative care and euthanasia. This flies in the face of the federal government’s defeat of Bill-384, introduced by Francine Lalonde MP, Bloc Quebecois, in 2010. Bill-384 sought to change our Criminal Code to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide and was overwhelming defeated by 228 to 59 votes.

Bill-52’s legislative package designates doctors as the health-care professionals who will do the euthanizing/executing.

Interestingly in a recent poll, 88 per cent of Canadian palliative care physicians opposed euthanasia. Moreover in August 2013, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) reaffirmed its policy on this matter: “Canadian physicians should not participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide.” The American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association have taken the same stand.

Those in our society who want euthanasia as an option are seeking autonomy without thinking how this will affect the many vulnerable and often silent voices who cannot protest.
How do you define autonomy, meaning: “I want death my way, at my request,” when you actually give your life over to another person who will kill you?

I do not see this as autonomy because you are giving your power to another person. Executions have been botched! Mistakes are always possible even with health-care professionals.

Another highly charged item in Bill-52 is chronic depression and mental pain/discomfort (which may be related to existential or spiritual anxiety) qualifies a person for euthanasia. Who defines this type of suffering?

Look back to 1972 at the history of abolition of the death penalty in Canada. The law was changed because, first, a wrong decision could be made and an innocent person put to death. Second, doctors debated and decided that putting someone to death was unethical and against their mandate.

Further it was declared INHUMANE to ask one person to kill another person. Now in 2013 the Quebec National Assembly has put forth a plan, subject only to provincial jurisdiction that designates doctors to kill another human being.

Who defines the ethical and moral action of this designation? I do not believe that this designation is ethical, moral or humane.

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1 comment:

Alex Schadenberg said...

Vito asked by email that we share this message:
It seems many people today believe that they have the right of free choice. If one extends this thinking, where does it lead? If everyone were allowed this type of right, wouldn’t it result in total anarchy? Let’s be honest here: one person’s choice in matters of life (e.g., euthanasia) affects other people. The choice to die, or to be killed, negatively influences others; and therefore is not an isolated choice. Referring to this type of choice, someone warns us: Choice is an Illusion. There are people who want to live despite adverse circumstances, but would experience pressure to conform to a trend that would be set. Isn’t it obvious that the right to life is of primary value, and truly a fundamental right; which therefore trumps the right to free choice that is in question here? In part, this is the reason that governments came into being. In addition to upholding law and order, governments serve to protect the common good. Let’s hope the legislators in Quebec recognise and continue to uphold this for the benefit of all.

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