Sandy, in a recent conversation, shared that it took over six months for the insurance company to approve the purchase of a wheelchair, by which time she could hardly get out of bed, let alone use it. Having that wheelchair earlier might have improved her quality of life. Why does it take so long, especially when someone has limited time?
Most of us have the desire to end our days in the comfort of our own homes, but the reality is that more often than not, we will spend our last days in hospital or in a nursing home on palliative care. With this type of care, the only medical intervention provided is purely for comfort and pain relief. But palliative care doesn't end with the patient; it extends to their family, and the entire process of accepting what will be a peaceful, dignified death.
In Canada, attending a suicide is legal; assisting a suicide is not. Suicide itself is legal in Canada, thus preventing the further injustice of charges against the many unassisted suicides that result in survival in some kind of reduced quality of life. We must legalize assisted suicide in Canada. There are two ways this can happen.
It is a sad truth that a terminally ill person's death is already imminent. The question we therefore have to ask ourselves is whether that imminent death should be replete with pain and suffering in order to maintain a belief-system which relies on thinking doctors and nurses cannot be trusted, or whether that death should be pain-free when the individual is competent to decide that a life of continued suffering robs life of its personal meaning.
It's time to shift away from the messy public spectacles regarding euthanasia. Instead let's follow Quebec's lead -- Canadians everywhere should be able to choose from a full range of end-of-life options, including -- if the prerequisites are met, the option of a medically assisted suicide. There aren't really any scary precedents or slippery slopes here. What there is, is an alternative to an existence of suffering and pain that should, and can be afforded to a terminally ill, palliative treated, mentally competent adult.