The Politics Of Life, Death And Dignity

By March 4, 2015Faith, Issues

By Mike Archer. While the federal government cools its heels on instructions from the Supreme Court to come up with a new law on assisted-suicide, Abbotsford’s Margaret Bentley and her family must continue to go through the physical and mental agony of a long, drawn out and punishing death.

Despite a living will expressing her wishes not to be kept artificially alive if recovery was impossible and having the consent of her family, Bentley is being forced to end her life in a manner she thought she had protected herself against. The nursing home in which she is dying has been instructed to continue feeding her because, according to the court, Bentley is signifying consent by opening her mouth.

The BC Court of Appeal, which made the ruling Tuesday, is simply interpreting the law. Those who want the law changed must clearly make more noise than has yet been made on the subject.

It is an ideological law which favours a minority who believe that, rather than leaving the decision up to individuals, their physicians and their families, the government has a right and a duty to decide when citizens can and can’t end their lives.

People have been talking to their parliamentarians for many years about this subject and the majority of Canadians now want the laws changed. The desire for a more caring, compassionate solution will only grow as more of us face the end of our lives.

The Supreme Court of Canada has been quite clear on the right of citizens to die. The current law stands against the established Charter rights of those who, being of sound mind, choose to end unnecessary suffering at the end of their lives, if they suffer from a terminal disease.

Enter the Conservative government of Stephen Harper during an election year and a social conservative base which has been repeatedly told it must content itself with lip service to its beliefs so that Harper can get re-elected.

Few issues are so clearly a winner at the polls and yet an absolutely terrifying suggestion to a government on its last legs with a far right wing base. If Harper were to side with the majority of Canadians and change the law he would risk having his base stay home in next October’s federal election.

The notion that parliamentarians need more than the 12 months granted them by the Supreme Court of Canada to draft a new law on physician-assisted death beggars belief. Legislators have one job: to make laws. They should get to it without delay. – André Picard The Globe and Mail

Margaret Bentley and her family are left to suffer the continued indignity of force feeding and artificial life support due to the beliefs of a minority of her fellow citizens, who believe they have the right to tell her how to end her life, and a prime minister so intent on winning one more election he won’t lift a finger to help all of the Margaret Bentleys out there.

For the majority of Canadians who believe they, their physicians and their families have the right to make their own end-of-life decisions, it is a frustrating time to be facing an ideological government which seems frozen in time and unwilling to act.

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