Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bravo for the Bloc

BQ MP Francine Lalonde has shown the sort of courage we could use a lot more of in the opposition ranks. She's introduced a private member's bill to amend the Criminal Code and legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

Lalonde, who has herself battled cancer on and off in recent years, is morally and ethically right on this one. From the Toronto Star:

"Helping someone to die gently and without pain, can we call this murder? Many would say 'no.' And that's what I say," said Lalonde (La Pointe-de-l'Île).

"People who are going through a painful terminal phase, we should not refuse them the right to die with dignity.
She said her bill would allow terminally ill patients to "decide for themselves the time of death."

Ms. Lalonde provoked the expected outrage from Conservatives, especially the hysterical social cons like my MP, James Lunney. "Contrary to her intentions, this bill will allow doctors to provide a patient with a lethal injection, making many Canadians vulnerable to premature death," said Conservative MP James Lunney (Nanaimo-Alberni).

This "slippery slope" argument is utter nonsense and Lunney could and should know that. He lives just a few hundred miles north of Oregon which introduced its own assisted suicide legislation several years back. Anyone interested in this would do well to explore Oregon's experience.

In Oregon, terminally ill residents diagnosed with less than six months to live can apply for their programme. This is followed by counselling and interviews with independent physicians. If the applicant meets the criteria and satisfies the physicians there is a waiting period and a subsequent review. Only after that is the individual given a prescription for life-ending drugs.

The patient is given the prescription, that's it. They can have it filled or simply leave it unfilled. As it turns out, only a small percentage get it filled and fewer yet take the drugs. And that's the point, make no mistake about this.

What Oregon's programme does is alleviate the fear of the terminally ill that they may experience absolutely intolerable pain in the process of dying. This programme effectively targets the fear of an anguished death. It is about providing assurance and comfort to those facing the end. That's why most don't take the drugs. They only wanted them to ease their fears.

What kind of animal would refuse that ease of mind to the terminally ill?

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