Today is Samson’s birthday.
In a couple of weeks, it will be a year since we put him down. This random combination of thoughts came to me last week when a certain new item caught my eye.
Gloria Taylor is a British Columbian woman who lives with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). She was the face of five plaintiffs who went to the Supreme Court to strike down the ban on assisted suicide in that province. The grounds were that the ban discriminated against the disabled because, get this, they cannot commit suicide on their own.
The argument was that an able-bodied individual could end their own life without assistance. For those dealing with terminal conditions, there comes a point in time when this is no longer an option. It’s usually at this later stage that the idea of suicide is much more appealing than the years, months, weeks, days, the individual has left as a prisoner of their own bodies.
Now I toyed with the idea of not writing this column, simply because it falls under one of those contentious issues, like abortion, religion and hockey. But I feel strongly about this myself and to be honest, I was excited when I heard the news.
When Samson was suffering, we could tell. It was as obvious as if he could verbalize the pain he was in. Most people would say they would not allow an animal to suffer, they would have the “put to sleep.”
I have watched loved ones die. I have heard some of them wish for death to come. I have heard of people whose family members have asked them to help them bring their end to them. How is ok for a dog to be euthanized, but I couldn’t do it for a family member?
To be fair, there are differences between euthanasia and assisted suicide.
1. Euthanasia –
: the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured
individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for
reasons of mercy. The word is Greek and means “easy death.”
This can be a simple as someone withholding care or taking part
in the act of ending someone’s life. Notice how people and animals are lumped
2. Assisted Suicide –
: suicide committed by someone with assistance from another person;
especially : physician-assisted suicide
This is a specific plan where a doctor provides the means for a person to administer
drugs or an act that will allow the individual to end their own life. Something
they could not otherwise do on their own.
Thank you Merriam-Webster.
Immediately the battle cries were out for an appeal of this decision.
How can we allow these people who have suffered so much the “easy” way out???
Well I’ve got a thought for you. If you are saying the Court will not allow
anyone to take part in an action that will result in the death of another person, then they better get a lot more vigilant about methamphetamine dealers and producers, because THAT, my friend, is how a lot more people are going to die at the hand of another person.
It’s not like I don’t have a grasp on the concept of suicide. It has come close enough to me to know that there are times when I can see it is not the right option. There is pain and suffering for the family members left behind. But when we are looking at cases like this, how can it be a bad thing? Instead of an indefinite period of time where your family stands vigil for you, watches you waste away, is forced to have their last memories of you be tainted by the ravages of the disease that will ultimately claim you, you can have your time, prepare and allow a more humane procedure take place. Less drugs. Less hospital time. Less drama. Less trauma.
This topic first came to light in a big way back in 1992 when Sue Rodriguez, also suffering from ALS and living in Victoria, B.C., challenged the ban. She was denied the right to an assisted suicide, but in 1994, she was successful in finding an anonymous doctor who would help and she was given her assisted suicide that year.
“If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?” she asked. (cbc.com June 15, 2012)