Dr. Ken Walker, using the pen name Dr. W. Gifford-Jones, is a syndicated Canadian columnist published throughout the country. “Gifford-Jones,” who promotes himself as a medical expert, provides advice in his columns for many issues, those dealing with end of life.

He has written columns supporting, among other things, the actions of Robert Latimer, euthanasia and assisted suicide, eugenic sterilization and “the W. Gifford-Jones Living Will.” He consistently writes in an emotional style, and tends to exaggerate the facts in order to strengthen his extreme, secular-humanist positions.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition recently received a copy of the Gifford-Jones Living Will. Many Canadians have ordered this document and are depending on it to help them in their time of need. However, the Coalition believes that those who are depending on it are more likely to find themselves treated without compassion than given a dignified death.

Gifford-Jones begins his living will with a prayer that reads more like a statement. It states: “Please, dear Lord, deliver me in my final days from a physician who has graduated summa cum laude; one who is dedicated to prolonging my last breath of life. Rather, grant me the services of a veterinarian. One who will treat my suffering with the same cool logic he bestows on animals. I beseech thee, dear Lord, to answer this my final prayer.”

Gifford-Jones then states in the next paragraph: “It is the intent of this living will to inform my family, my physician, my lawyer, my clergyman and anyone else who may become responsible for my health that I adamantly believe in the philosophy of this prayer.” He then continues by defining death in the most horrific way and refers to medical incompetence in order to illustrate the need for signing his extreme living will.

The will then states: “Veterinarians never condone this half-life for a beloved animal. I do not want my family or physician to condone this type of existence for me. Life has no meaning under these conditions. I have never understood the theory that humans must be allowed to suffer because their brains are more developed than animals. Surely there is a time to live and a time to die. To continue ‘existing’ under the circumstances that I describe is senseless and needless psychological and physical agony. I want no part of it.”

What Gifford-Jones seems to be saying is that for an end-of-life circumstance, a quick death is the preferred method of dying, whether it is deemed ethical or not.

He then asks that the following points be followed in order to have the living will carried out:

  • that family and physicians be willing to carry out the “spirit” of the document
  • that decisions to discontinue treatment be shared by three doctors, and that those who act in accordance with the wishes of the document be indemnified or held blameless for their actions (in other words, that no lawsuits for incompetence or neglect be filed)
  • that in the case of a physician who does not agree with the intentions of the document, a family should seek another physician who agrees with the spirit of the document (in other words, a physician who opposes euthanasia must refer the patient to another physician)
  • that all heroic measures be discontinued when there is no reasonable hope that medical treatment will assure recovery from a physical or mental disability
  • that adequate painkillers be used at all times
  • that all intravenous feedings be stopped when the discontinuation of heroic measures will not lead to an end to life within a reasonable time. “It is my request that I be allowed to starve to death rather than exist as a human vegetable.” (In other words, starvation and dehydration is the preferred way to die.)

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is convinced that the Gifford-Jones Living Will is a very dangerous document because it is less concerned with the dignity of one’s death than with the ending of one’s life. Other than his demand for the maximum use of pain medication, he does not demand the best possible care for the dying and does not recognize the importance of the bond and reconciliation for family and friends. Rather, he promotes unethical medical actions that may include euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Gifford-Jones also seems pre-occupied with comparing the human experience to that of animals. This is not a new theme for him. In an article supporting the actions of Robert Latimer, Gifford-Jones compared Latimer’s daughter Tracy to an animal. In a May 7, 2001 article promoting the Gifford-Jones Living Will, he stated: “I have signed a living will. In effect, it states that I want to be treated as well as my favourite dog.”

As previously stated, Gifford-Jones likes to use emotional language to strengthen his extreme, secular-humanist agenda.

It seems to me that if Gifford-Jones were truly concerned about a dignified death he would first recognize that special protection is needed for incompetent or vulnerable patients whose lives are treated as less than worth living. But then again he is renowned in the disabled community for his support for eugenic sterilization and for describing Tracy Latimer in terms reserved for animals.

If Gifford-Jones and other pro-euthanasia activists were truly concerned about “dying with dignity” they would not support starvation and dehydration as a way to quickly end one‚s life. Starvation and dehydration remains one of the most inhumane ways to die where the pain and suffering is made acceptable by large doses of morphine.

True dignity is found by recognizing the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimension of the person who is dying. By caring for their physical needs, by listening and responding to their psychological needs, and by fulfilling their spiritual needs someone can close the book on their life with real dignity. They can say goodbye to their friends and experience the final days of their life in comfort, and without fear of uncontrolled suffering.

To protect yourself in your final days, you need to order the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care that is designed by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. This document will assure that you receive the proper pain and symptom management and respect that is due to you as a human person while also ensuring that you will not be starved or dehydrated to death or intentionally killed (euthanized).

Order the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care by calling the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: 1-877-439-3348.