We oppose euthanasia, and we oppose all those people who try to manipulate public opinion by blurring the edges of the issue. Call it mercy killing, dying with dignity, aid in dying, active or passive euthanasia, all these terms mean the same thing: a sick person (not necessarily a dying person) is killed.
The Right to Die Society and its lawyers would have us believe that Sue Rodriguez is merely asking for the right to control her death, through physician-assisted suicide. Perhaps Mrs. Rodriguez herself believes that this is her goal.
While we can all understand the frustrations, fear and despair of those struggling to come to terms with a cruelly disabling disease, we cannot allow our sympathy for the plight of the individual to become the basis for public policy.
The law against assisted suicide must be upheld by the courts. The very words—assisted suicide—are weasel words, designed to take away the emphasis from killing. Suicide whether you are terminally ill or simply depressed, is a cry for help, a cry for attention and love. Arranging the means of suicide for a distressed person, instead of coming to his or her aid, is cruel and criminal behaviour.
A change in the law to respect the wishes of a mentally-competent person would, as Judge Allen Melvin of the B.C. Supreme Court wisely notes, remove protection from “the young, the innocent, the mentally incompetent, the depressed, and all those other individuals in our society who at a particular moment in time decide that termination of their life is a course that they should follow for whatever reason.”
A change in the law to allow physician-assisted suicide would alter the traditional role of doctor from healer and caregiver to licensed killer. Surely, no self-respecting doctor would want such authority.
A change in the law would devalue further the lives of the disabled, the terminally ill, the frail and senile. It would remove the urgent need to establish more palliative care and hospice units.
Hard cases make bad law.