Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Right to Live or Die

I'm warning you all up front: this is about human euthanasia. It's fine if you are uncomfortable with that and want to say so, but any and all abusive comments WILL BE DELETED AND WILL RESULT IN YOU BEING BLOCKED. If you are incapable of an adult discussion, turn away now.

As you might have heard, the British Columbia Supreme Court has deemed Canada's anti-euthanasia laws unconstitutional, because they infringe on our right to liberty. So the federal government has one year, to update the law into something that would pass a Charter smell test. This was brought about by ALS patient Gloria Taylor, who is effectively paraplegic and dependent on a feeding tube. This is the culmination of an all-too-regular argument in Canada, that never really goes anywhere, despite widespread national support for the right of Canadians to decide for themselves when and how to die, in a situation like Taylor's. That's because, for obvious reasons, it's seen as a political hornet's nest.

There are a few different concerns, about legalizing what is often -- but somewhat inaccurately -- called "doctor-assisted suicide". Some of them are more rational than others, but because this is a delicate issue, even I will resist the urge to rip into various political and religious conservatives who invariably stick their noses into this. However, I will point out that the argument of "interfering in God's Plan" is more than a little dubious, coming from people who wish to hook you up to breathing tubes, when you're incapable of breathing on your own (and, by implication, being ordained to die, if you believe in such things).

One of the more valid ones, is the concern that this will lead to the elderly and disabled being "put down" by overzealous doctors. I would suggest that the way to prevent that, is rather obvious: make it the law to just assume a patient wants to be kept alive, unless they fill out a form -- with co-signers -- that says they wish to be euthanized. In principle, it would be the same as a Do Not Resuscitate form, which seems to work just fine for most people. Coupled with the fact that various regions around the world, with legalized euthanasia, show no evidence of major problems, it seems to me that the "abuse of process" argument is pretty well debunked.

With that out of the way, I think that "right to die" legislation MUST be legalized, for a very clear reason. It's the same reason why, despite personal misgivings about abortion, I will always be pro-choice: 99.9% of the time, none of us has a stake in the matter. If -- Heaven forbid -- I ever get a woman pregnant, or any daughter I have becomes pregnant while underage, THEN I would have a legitimate say in whether or not the pregnancy is aborted... AND THAT'S IT. The rest of the time, IT'S NONE OF MY BUSINESS. Should I ever find myself diagnosed with a terminal, lingering, and debilitating illness, the only people who really have a reason to keep me alive, are my girlfriend, my family, my closest friends, and finally myself. If you're none of those people, then I don't care what you have to say on my last wishes. They will not be listened to.

I'm not saying that I would rush to have a doctor put me to sleep, should I end up in that situation -- since I'm not bed-ridden, comatose, or on permanent pain-killers just to endure the day, I can't say for sure. However, I do know that the LAST thing I want, is to be hooked-up to life support, unresponsive, and incurable, just because some busy-body whom I've never even met has decided to interfere with my fate.

One of the few freedoms we seem to have left, is the basic right to control our own bodies. I have a REALLY big problem with the state or some church -- especially one that has shown no concern over my welfare, up to this point -- telling me that I belong to them UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Whether you wish to be euthanized yourself, if the time comes, is up to you. But you should definitely be free to decide that for yourself.

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