10/15/2014 05:18 EDT | Updated 12/16/2014 05:59 EST

Why I Want the Right to Die

Closeup shot of an elderly man holding his wife's hand while she is ill in the hospital
Closeup shot of an elderly man holding his wife's hand while she is ill in the hospital

I was completely paralyzed -- I couldn't even scratch my nose or wiggle my toes. I just lay there, staring at the ceiling. But that was many years ago and I had the exuberance of youth -- I just knew I would recover to play football in the autumn.

That was after I contracted Polio, some 60 years ago. I am still disabled and I never did play football, but I did recover enough muscle strength to lead a meaningful life with a good profession and a great family.

Some 25 years later, my muscles started to weaken due the late effects of Polio. Some even disappeared.

"Will I become completely paralyzed again -- just lying there, staring at the ceiling?"

I have known people with ALS, MS, Aids, Huntington's and other ailments. As the condition progresses, it can be devastating. They lose physical control and suffer emotional terror. Some say doctors can relieve the pain -- but they can't. I have watched my friends under their care suffering intensely.

Suicide -- jumping off a bridge, shooting yourself, slashing your wrists -- surely is not easy for anyone. And it inflicts terrible damage to family and loved ones who, no doubt, wonder how they let you down. Wouldn't it be so much more humane to be able to plan our exit with medical assistance? Discuss your wishes with your doctor and your family, arrange a final get together, say your goodbyes, take a medically prescribed potion and lie down to peacefully go to sleep?

The Honourable Steven Fletcher's Bills 581 and 582, benefiting from the experience of 17 years of assisted dying legislation in the state of Oregon, 15 years in the Netherlands and 10 years in Belgium, provide ample protection against misuse.

I followed the Sue Rodriguez case with great interest and was surprised at the Supreme Court's decision. Why is it that a physically healthy person in our society can legally commit suicide but a physically handicapped person cannot ask someone to help them? This is unfair.

When assisted end-of-life becomes the law in Canada, your life can have a peaceful ending. Your family and friends know what you want and can say goodbye. The doctors and nurses won't have to fear jail. And our government no longer needs to discriminate against disabled Canadians.

Let's hope the Supreme Court of Canada has now matured.


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