The Globe and Mail has an editorial saying “Make the right to die legal, with protections.”
Time and again, opinion polls show a large majority of Canadians support the idea that the terminally ill should be able to decide when and how they die. They believe that competent adults in unbearable pain, suffering from an illness that will never improve, have the right to die with dignity.
And yet the Canadian government is no closer to resolving how – or if – to reform the law against euthanasia; no politician is brave enough to champion such a contentious cause, or even to launch a national debate probing public opinion.
But if that’s what the polls show, why does it take bravery? Why is the cause so contentious?
No doubt because it’s not a matter of majorities but of religion and religious influence. Religion, you may possibly have noticed from time to time, has power and influence that is out of proportion to its popularity. This is all very suitable, no doubt, because its power and influence Come From God, meaning, they are not Of This World, so naturally they get to trump measly stupid little humans.
Research shows that, in places where assisted suicide is legal, there is an initial spike in requests. However, the number then diminishes. “Many people, once they know that if all else fails, this is an option, they won’t make that call. The stress is gone,” says Udo Schuklenk, a Queen’s University professor who chairs the Royal Society’s committee on end-of-life decision-making in Canada. The committee will release a report this fall.
“Often when people talk about end-of-life decision-making, the assumption is, it’s about pain,” he adds. “But it’s not. The concern is more about losing control over the quality of their lives.”
Quite, and it’s a reasonable concern.