Stop Calling it Assisted Suicide – It’s Been Medical Practice for Years

While the recent judgement of the Supreme Court to allow doctor assisted dying  is gratifyingly forward looking and sensible, it really doesn’t change much for Canada’s terminally ill or those in severe, chronic, pain.

For years, hospitals and doctors, in consultation with patients and family, have negotiated “do not resuscitate” orders for seriously ill patients. In addition, “comfort care” is a euphemism for aggressively mitigating pain to the point that comfortable death replaces therapeutic care as the goal of treatment.

Doctors, families and terminally ill patients have been quietly  making these decisions for years. It ‘s a compassionate and appropriate practice.

My family experienced “comfort care” when a family member, whose pain was considerable and whose prognosis was bleak, died a comfortable, medically expedited death, through the cessation of therapeutic medication and a significant increase in pain medication.

A very sensitive doctor invited us in to discuss possible treatment options. Our family member faced the prospect of a feeding tube, virtual immobility, and because her heart was healthy, a long, slow, uncomfortable death. It was a no brainer. Her pain medication was upped and she died peacefully two days later. She was ready.

I know how I would have responded had an officious politicians who didn’t know our loved one or her medical condition, tried to prohibit her humane death on the basis of religious dogma or a trumped up thin edge of the wedge argument.

It always seems that those who purport to want “small government” are the loudest voices encouraging the government to legislate people’s moral and  medical behaviour.

No law could know what was best for our loved one in her dying days. No law could presume to be helpful in sorting out the end of life medical circumstances of individual Canadians. The right law is no law  for families and loved ones dealing with prolonged uncomfortable death.

And can we stop calling medically expedited death “assisted Suicide”? It’s such an unnecessarily incendiary term. “Assisted suicide” conjures up an image of third parties preparing nooses, loading the 45, or casing out the Patullo Bridge for grandma’s imminent swan dive. That is not what happens today and it’s not what this Supreme Court ruling suggests.

I’m proud to be a Canadian today. The unanimous decision of the Court to support people’s right to choose doctor assisted death over long, painful palliative care or hospice, is the latest in a series of actions that affirm both the common sense and efficacy of the Canadian social conscience.

The overreaction to the decision is weak and won’t fly. Canadians are a socially sensible and compassionate lot, and the argument that this ruling is the thin edge of the wedge, that before long we’ll be offing grandma the first time she loses her car keys will be seen for how ludicrous it is.

Single payer health care unanimously accepted.A woman’s right to choose firmly embraced. Recently, marriage equality legislated with no fuss, and now, the unanimous acceptance of allowing the chronically ill, their families, and their doctor to make dying with dignity decisions at the end of life.

Bravo Canada.

About jimnelson806

Educational consultant from Port Moody. "The Stuff Isn't What's Important" " School Wide Discipline Programmes Don't Work" " Vice Principals are crucial towards setting direction"
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5 Responses to Stop Calling it Assisted Suicide – It’s Been Medical Practice for Years

  1. Judith says:

    Thanks, Jim, for speaking up for Canada. After a really rough year, this court decision means a lot to me personally, too. Brilliant and articulate, as usual.


  2. Marg Nelson says:

    Yes, it’s a red-letter day, but you’re right about the bogus terminology.


  3. Bobbi says:

    You stated this beautifully, and for once, we are in complete agreement. Well done.


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