Opinion Column

Doctor-assisted suicide a personal choice 0

Bill Tieleman

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Pro-assisted suicide supporters and anti-assisted suicide supporters rally outside the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday March 4, 2013. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

Pro-assisted suicide supporters and anti-assisted suicide supporters rally outside the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday March 4, 2013. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

It doesn’t make any sense that it’s legal for me to commit suicide, but it’s illegal for someone to help me to die at peace, without pain, in the comfort of my home, with family and friends surrounding me. — Gloria Taylor, late right-to-die advocate

Mothers’ Day will always be difficult for our family, because it’s the day my mom started coughing up blood and was rushed by ambulance to hospital.

As I looked in her eyes before the paramedics arrived, we both knew wordlessly that she would never set foot again in her cozy apartment filled with the treasures of a rich life.

Pat Tieleman died just three weeks later of lung cancer. At the end my mother needlessly died in pain because of an unjust law she opposed.

I applaud the BC Civil Liberties Association for taking on a law stopping doctors from helping suffering terminally ill patients leave this world with a merciful dose of drugs.

The Supreme Court of Canada last week agreed to hear an appeal of a BC Appeal Court ruling that upheld a ban on physician-assisted suicide.

The Appeal Court overturned a compassionate decision by BC Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith saying the right to die with dignity was protected by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Gloria Taylor was one of the BCCLA plaintiffs, a brave woman suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that cruelly paralyses the body and kills two to three Canadians every day.

The Westbank, B.C. resident wanted the right to die when she could no longer deal with the agony of terminal illness and won a personal exemption to do so through Smith’s decision, but died of other causes before exercising it.

My mom’s death convinced me overwhelmingly how unjust the law is.

Pat and my father Harry believed everyone should have the right to decide when suffering from terminal illness should stop.

Sadly, Harry also died in pain when his life ended due to Alzheimer’s disease in 2000.

I watched my parents’ disease-ravaged bodies convulsively shut down for hours before death came. It is extremely difficult to witness and in my mom’s case, I insisted a nurse administer additional morphine.

No one should face death the way my mom and dad did. Tell your Member of Parliament that outlawing mercy is so wrong.

 

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read more at billtieleman.blogspot.com Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman

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