Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Letter: Opposed to doctor-assisted death

The following letter was published on May 7, 2013 in the Sarnia Ontario Observer.

Sir: I greatly object to Dr. Gifford-Jones column published May 4 on doctor-assisted death, in which he summarily dismisses the inherent dignity of people with dementia and terminal diseases by proposing "death with dignity," a euphemism for assisted suicide and euthanasia.

My husband, presently afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, is still the lovable man I married and infinitely worth caring for until natural death. I am horrified at the prospect of doctors trusted to provide life-supporting treatment receiving power, in law, to directly and intentionally cause the death or to prescribe the suicide of their patients. Legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide is not safe and will never be safe for vulnerable people nor for the shared flawed humanity of doctors.

According to Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director and International Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, three recent studies concerning the practice of assisted death in Belgium found that 32% of assisted deaths were done without explicit requests; only 52.8% of the assisted deaths were reported; some of the assisted deaths were carried out by nurses. In the Netherlands the number of unreported euthanasia deaths increased between 2005 and 2010. In the USA, the Oregon law suggests that a doctor who suspects that a patient is depressed or experiencing mental difficulties be sent for a psychological evaluation. Of the 77 assisted suicide deaths in Oregon in 2012 only two of them were sent for an evaluation. Canadians must support the laws that protect people from euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Marie-Paule Wilkinson
Bright’s Grove Ontario

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