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British Columbia court legalizes assisted suicide
June 15, 2012 2:42 PM   Subscribe

The British Columbia Supreme Court has struck down a ban on physician-assisted suicide, in a whopping 1415-paragraph decision.

The decision was suspended for 1 year, meaning that the law remains on the books for a while. However, the judge gave one of the plaintiffs, Gloria Taylor, an exemption from the law with some restrictions, to ensure that she "has an effective remedy" from her lawsuit. Ms. Taylor suffers from ALS.

This case will likely be appealed to the Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court. Physician-assisted suicide last came before the Supreme Court in 1993, and remained illegal, in Rodriguez v British Columbia.

BC will join Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland (home of Dignitas (previously), Montana, Oregon, and Washington State. More information can be found at Wikipedia.
posted by Lemurrhea (57 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bitchin'.
posted by Melismata at 2:53 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspect in a couple generations societies attitude against assisted suicide will seem as strange to our grandchildren as not letting women vote or slavery does to us.
posted by Keith Talent at 2:55 PM on June 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


My instant thought was "I am so happy for Terry Pratchett and so sad."
posted by nicebookrack at 2:59 PM on June 15, 2012


wait, crap, I saw "British" and missed "Columbia." Fuck, Pterry, I'm still sorry.
posted by nicebookrack at 3:00 PM on June 15, 2012


Finally.

I see the demand to extend human life at any cost to be one of the most regrettable intersections of religious doctrine and modern technology. "Preserving life" has become a horror of suffering, pain, shame and indebtedness.

For centuries it was obvious that human physical suffering that was terminal and incurable should be ceased just as soon as the patient wished. The objection that doing so "violates the Hippocratic Oath" is largely indefensible: the oath has always been culturally mediated, with sections on not teaching medicine to women removed in the 20th century. There were no strictures against physician-assisted suicide in Athenian Greece.

We terminate the lives of suffering animals with more kindness, care and love than we show our fellow humans. I'm very glad that Canada has started to see the light.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 3:01 PM on June 15, 2012 [41 favorites]


This is good, and also makes me feel sad. A sad good/good sad.
posted by subbes at 3:11 PM on June 15, 2012


I live in British Columbia.

I tend to think this is a bad thing, because this is society saying: "We will only do so much to help you live with a chronic disease; after that will make it easy for you to die."

I guess as a society we're essentially saying that there are some diseases we will try to cure, and there are other diseases will not, such as ALS. Why? Because the economies of scale are not there, it's not profitable.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:12 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


informed of the risks associated with physician-assisted dying and the probable result of the medication proposed for use in her physician-assisted death

What. I don't even...

the assisting physician be authorized to complete her death certificate indicating death from her underlying illness as cause of death

... but that is a damn good clause right there. That would really go a very long way towards taking the stigma out of the thing.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:14 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess as a society we're essentially saying that there are some diseases we will try to cure, and there are other diseases will not, such as ALS.

I'm pretty sure such chronic diseases are still present a wealth of grant opportunities to researchers, both from public funding and from private, condition specific funding agencies. I don't see research into cures/treatments ceasing any time soon.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:16 PM on June 15, 2012


I tend to think this is a bad thing, because this is society saying: "We will only do so much to help you live with a chronic disease; after that will make it easy for you to die."

No.

"There is only so much we CAN do to help you live with a chronic disease; also, your life is the only thing that can be said you truly own, and you can do whatever the fuck with it you please."
posted by curious nu at 3:17 PM on June 15, 2012 [21 favorites]


I tend to think this is a bad thing, because this is society saying: "We will only do so much to help you live with a chronic disease; after that will make it easy for you to die."

First off, there's a massively significant distinction between a chronic disease and a terminal disease.

A chronic disease can be lived with for many, many years (even if it might eventually be terminal). A terminal disease is what's going to kill you (barring being hit by a bus).

This bill allows people suffering from a terminal disease that's going to kill them anyway to choose to minimize their own suffering and die as they wish, rather than society forcing them to prolong their suffering.
posted by scody at 3:19 PM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


KokuRyu: Is there any current indication that the legality of physician-assisted suicide will affect the right of those who wish to keep living to recieve treatment to do so? I mean, I understand the danger that a cheaper treatment (a syringe of cyanide) represents to continued funding for more expensive treatments, but I also strongly support the right to die. So, my response would be to embrace the latter while fighting against the former.

But I'm wondering if there's some BC specific context I'm missing.
posted by 256 at 3:22 PM on June 15, 2012


Also, to the other responders to KokuRyu: remember that BC has socialized health care. So the question isn't whether research will continue towards cures/treatments, or whether non-euthanasia will still be available on the market, but rather whether the government will continue to fund those treatments.
posted by 256 at 3:25 PM on June 15, 2012


I tend to think this is a bad thing, because this is society saying: "We will only do so much to help you live with a chronic disease; after that will make it easy for you to die."

What a disingenuous interpretation.

This deserves nothing but applause.
posted by Sternmeyer at 3:26 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great decision, and I hope that it withstands all the inevitable fearmongering that will go on amongst conservatives here (ironically the same group who traditionally oppose paying for Canada's universal health care). It's going to be tough to get people to grasp the difference between euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Eventually medical ethics is going to have to deal with the whole Struldbrug problem, so this is going to become a more and more significant issue. Also, like it or not, there is immense scarcity in the system, so we are long overdue for a discussion about how we allocate resources. At the moment we are spending a fortune (that could go towards prevention) on extending death.
posted by biochemicle at 3:26 PM on June 15, 2012


When someone close to me committed suicide last December, I went through a lot of emotions. He was young, in his 30's. However, suicide is something that he was contemplating for a majority of his adult life. From an accident he had pain in his leg and arm that made it difficult to move around, and he contracted MRSA and it had infected his lungs. At the point of his suicide he was in a lot of pain every single day. He did it with a gun to his head.

Even though this is for those with a terminal illness at the end of their life anyway, I feel like if someone is going to end their life, it would just be easier if we as a society had systems in place to make it not so traumatic for the person or the family. Many people with terminal illnesses commit suicide everyday. Imagine being able to choose when you die, and being surrounded by people you love, and having it done by a professional in an environment of your choosing in such a way that is 100% painless.

This, opposed to offing yourself with a weapon in the living room and being found by your family.

We NEED this to happen in our society. We need laws to protect people who are suffering and are going to end it one way or another. Isn't that the only decent thing you can do?
posted by Malice at 3:28 PM on June 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


First off, there's a massively significant distinction between a chronic disease and a terminal disease.

The issue with ALS in this case is that few people actually develop the disease, meaning there is little incentive to research of commercialize a treatment or cure. No one knows what causes it, no one is able to predict who will get it, which seems just crazy. It seems like a lot more effort could be spent finding a treatment or a cure before we say "Oh, well, too bad, not profitable, here, take these pills and die."
posted by KokuRyu at 3:33 PM on June 15, 2012


the assisting physician be authorized to complete her death certificate indicating death from her underlying illness as cause of death.

I think this is strange. I fully support the decision, but why on earth would you not require the cause of death to be accurate? Just say the cause of death is "physician-assisted dose of Drug X, due to terminal Disease X" or similar. Is there some legal/insurance/etc reason for this? Are there other cases where there's a convention dictating an inaccurate cause of death be named?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:34 PM on June 15, 2012


No, this will not affect the right of those who with to remain living. People who want to receive painful treatments with low odds of success for the faint hope of ekeing out a few more weeks of miserable life will continue to have the option to do so. Canada does not have death panels, and will not have death panels. This is addressed at length in the ruling.

To put it another way, I as a Canadian insist that no one should be forced to die for lack of money to pay the doctor. That's a more or less universal Canadian value; the Conservatives might undermine medicare in many ways, but that principle at least will stand. We don't leave people to die in the snow.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:37 PM on June 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


KokoRyu, the course of ALS for any given person can be very fast indeed. It's not like it's an option for the plaintiff in this case to wait for a cure to be developed!

Why would requiring people with the disease to suffer its full course increase anyone's incentive or available money for research?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:37 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


informed of the risks associated with physician-assisted dying and the probable result of the medication proposed for use in her physician-assisted death

What. I don't even...
Slackermagee, It looks like the risks that the judge is talking about isn't so much the risk of death (because, well, yeah) but rather the risk of things going awry and serious pain occurring. It comes up in both the judge's decision and Ms. Taylor's pleadings - and given that those situations happen with anaesthesia and lethal injections, it makes sense that it be brought up. I admit it's kind of weird in this particular situation, because the odds that Ms. Taylor isn't crystal-clear on what the process is like are pretty low, but as a general rule it makes sense, and the judge is using the exemption to propose a standard.

And yeah, let's not jump on KokuRyu, it is indeed a serious concern. I hope that what this will amount to is more along the lines of "we can't fix the problem yet, we know that our research won't be in time for you, so go ahead and die." But that's not a guarantee - that aspect is in my mind the major (secular) concern with assisted suicide. I don't think it's enough to restrict personal autonomy through banning assisted suicide, though.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:37 PM on June 15, 2012


We don't leave people to die in the snow.

Well, the police do, but, yeah.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:39 PM on June 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think my reaction to this story is based on an essay I read in the New York Times about ten years ago about a lawyer fighting against a "right to die" law of some kind. The lawyer, a woman, had cerebral palsy or something like that, and from what I recall of the article, her main issue was that such laws really do place an evaluation and a value on human life - people with cerebral palsy (and I'm not intending to create a straw man argument here) can't lead lives worth living, so they should die if they want to.

The lawyer argued that more ought to be done to improve the quality of life for people living with chronic illnesses (and yes, I'm aware that ALS is a terminal illness; my argument now is that there will be even less incentive to find a cure).

As well, there is also the case of Robert Latimer, who murdered his own daughter. While there was no real treatment or cure for her condition, might things have possibly been different if the Latimer family had received more support?
posted by KokuRyu at 3:39 PM on June 15, 2012


KokoRyu, the course of ALS for any given person can be very fast indeed.

Yeah, I had my own little ALS scare earlier this year. Pretty frightening.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:40 PM on June 15, 2012


Certain members of the religious right would force you to be born, resist helping you live, then refuse to let you die. I am in favor of this sane and humane ruling and hope it stands.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:49 PM on June 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


Look... People should die if they WANT to. What business is it of uours or the government's why they WANT to. The alternative is to leave those who WANT to die with only horrible, painful, inexact means. There is nothing here that says if you have ALS you must die amd we are going to stop researching a cure for those that don't want to die.
posted by spicynuts at 3:56 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine anyone thinking "oh, these people can just kill themselves now. Guess I don't need to donate/vote/research anymore to support them".
posted by no regrets, coyote at 3:56 PM on June 15, 2012


'Sane and humane'. That should be a new mantra for the decade.
posted by biochemicle at 3:57 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


We don't leave people to die in the snow...Well, the police do, but, yeah.

Yes, they have. When it comes to the First Nations, Canada is still a pretty racist country, sometimes appallingly so.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:08 PM on June 15, 2012


It seems like a lot more effort could be spent finding a treatment or a cure before we say "Oh, well, too bad, not profitable, here, take these pills and die."

This seems like a really weird false dichotomy to me - those two things are really not connected, and I'm uncertain why people with ALS, for example, should be unwillingly forced to suffer, in hopes that their agonies will result "research".

I don't know, have you spent a lot of time with medical professionals, Kokoryu? I can't help but feel you have a very idealised view of medicine and life (I mean that in the literal, life-and-death sense, not life in general). Firstly, I can't speak for Canada, but here in Australia, this already happens, in many different ways, some legal, and some grey. DNR is the obvious one. But less obvious is the legal dosages of morphine that are non-lethal to a healthy adult, but in a compromised person will eventually kill them. Or, you can do what my grandmother did and just stop eating and stop drinking for three days, and then get the morphine, and then slowly, eventually, painfully die.

Secondly, there are many, many things physicians are unable to cure or help with. I see this with my doctor and nurse friends all the time, when people (families, usually, not patients themselves) are pushing them to "save" their husband's, wife's, father's mother's life. But no lives are gonna be saved. These people are dying, and the choice comes down to doing it slowly and horribly, or less slowly and horribly. It's a train, not a car; the destination is always the same.

I applaud this. Watching my grandmother die just over a year ago, over four, horrible days. We wouldn't put a fucking dog through that, it was nothing but cruelty and nobody wanted it.
posted by smoke at 4:11 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Physician-assisted suicide makes it easier to procure organs for transplant.

All you have to do is find some 20-something in a coma from a motor-vehicle accident, convince his next-of-kin that he is suffering and beyond any hope, and pull the plug.

Then you can divvy up the corneas, skin, bones, and viscera and "save some lives".
posted by Renoroc at 4:14 PM on June 15, 2012


Then you can divvy up the corneas, skin, bones, and viscera and "save some lives".

I'm not sure I understand why that's in quotations marks? Organ donation can same some lives?
posted by smoke at 4:25 PM on June 15, 2012


So, I recently had a cancer scare. Major surgery, waiting for the pathology, told to prepare myself, told that if the result was in fact cancer that I had a very poor prognosis (gallbladder/liver). During the days last month when I was facing down this particular very dark tunnel I was absolutely determined that should the news be bad, I would want-- would insist-- on my right to die at a time of my own choosing, just as I might decide to refuse chemo that might prolong my life at the cost of its quality. So this strikes home for me. It turns out that I had pre-cancerous lesions, in situ, contained in the gallbladder, all removed, and I'm declared cured-- hurrah. But I've walked, a little bit, this particular path, and support physician-assisted suicide completely. This is a good decision, and a merciful one.
posted by jokeefe at 4:27 PM on June 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Physician-assisted suicide makes it easier to procure organs for transplant.

All you have to do is find some 20-something in a coma from a motor-vehicle accident, convince his next-of-kin that he is suffering and beyond any hope, and pull the plug.

Then you can divvy up the corneas, skin, bones, and viscera and "save some lives".

I'm not sure I understand why that's in quotations marks? Organ donation can same some lives?


The wrong part is in quotation marks. That would fall under "physician-assisted suicide", because what's being described is nothing like that discussed by the court, and hopefully by us.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:36 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Physician-assisted suicide makes it easier to procure organs for transplant.

All you have to do is find some 20-something in a coma from a motor-vehicle accident, convince his next-of-kin that he is suffering and beyond any hope, and pull the plug.

Then you can divvy up the corneas, skin, bones, and viscera and "save some lives".


You have no understanding of physician-assisted suicide vis-à-vis euthanasia. This is a very common problem.
posted by Sternmeyer at 4:36 PM on June 15, 2012


The lawyer, a woman, had cerebral palsy or something like that, and from what I recall of the article, her main issue was that such laws really do place an evaluation and a value on human life - people with cerebral palsy (and I'm not intending to create a straw man argument here) can't lead lives worth living, so they should die if they want to.

This is why I support the right of all human beings to decide how and when they wish to die, not just people with [insert disease here]. That said, motor diseases like ALS and cerebral palsy can and do prevent people from physically carrying out their own wish to die, which means that people with these diseases have a lot more skin in the physician-assisted-suicide game than most others do.

Or, in other words: I don't see this as a "people with cerebral palsy can't lead lives worth living, so they should die if they want to" thing, I see it as a "people with cerebral palsy can't die if they want to, so they should be able to ask a doctor to help" thing.
posted by vorfeed at 4:41 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


KokuRyu, no one has the right to decide how someone else decides to live or die unless it directly affects that person. Offending moral sensibilities can't count, or else they would all count and we'd all be incredibly boring and decidedly not human, caught between the ideals of a hardline vegan secular humanist and a hardline religious fundamentalist.

I think every morally frustrating answer to every morally frustrating problem should approach the Clinton idea of being safe, legal, and rare. Focus on making it rare by providing services that provide a rich fulfilling life to as many people as you can, but if you can't convince someone to agree with your moral reasoning, you can't take their decisions away from them. If your position is that sensible, it should stand on it's own for the people it can matter to.

This is similar to the abortion issue: if it's that important, provide by law a guaranteed salary for the mother who is working to raise the child we wanted her to keep, and a college education that the child probably couldn't afford otherwise. If finding a cure for diseases to alleviate suffering is important, make it a part of the budget by law and guarantee a level of care for everyone afflicted with any sort of terminal or chronic illness. If we're not willing to take money out of our own wallet for something we say we believe in, I'll have to yield to cynicism and say we claim that morality for some other reason or purpose.
posted by deanklear at 4:48 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I totally get what the pro-assisted-suicide folks are saying, although I respectfully disagree.

Anyway, this is worth reading: Legalizing assisted suicide is a "recipe for elder abuse," say protestors

Balfour Mount's interview with Michael Enright is also illuminating.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:49 PM on June 15, 2012


Offending moral sensibilities can't count, or else they would all count and we'd all be incredibly boring and decidedly not human, caught between the ideals of a hardline vegan secular humanist and a hardline religious fundamentalist.

I'm not offending, although such a large number of logical fallacies in one sentence make me nervous!
posted by KokuRyu at 4:50 PM on June 15, 2012


From your article:
Speaking in his experience as a doctor who provides capability assessments on “frail, elderly people,” Johnston said it’s typical to see victims who have been induced to do things that are completely against their self-interest.

To me, this reads as if it's acceptable if our elders are forced to live while their children suck them dry, but unacceptable if they are forced to die so their children can suck them dry. Or, in other words: it's clearly still suicide itself which is being labelled unacceptable, not "elder abuse", as the latter exists whether or not we slide down the slippery slope.

Either way, the problem is coercion, not suicide. If the latter triggers us to deal with the former, then legalized suicide seems likely to help decrease elder abuse.
posted by vorfeed at 4:59 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great news.

It's important to note that what's at stake here is liberty. When the government denies individuals the right to die it is, in practical terms, condemning persons to suffer against their will -- that is, really, it is torturing them. When people justify this torture by posting hypotheticals (usually driven by their own selfish concerns and hangups) they are actively oppressing others, really, they are saying: "you should suffer so that I may (perhaps) be more free." But, like any oppressed group, those who so desperately desire to die are the least able to fight for the rights and so politicians, being cowards, will often simply go along with the easy vote. In situations like this -- where a heavily oppressed minority is subject to widespread, systematic, state-sponsored oppression -- the courts really are the only hope. These people will never be given a fair chance in the "people's court" and so a real court will have to do. And this is going to be a very, very important body of law so it's really great to see judges taking the time to really dig into this.

Opponents, however, argue that physician-assisted suicides will see the medical system steer patients toward suicide and allow greedy children intent on inheriting their parents wealth will force them into choosing death.

This is a non-starter. People, given the chance, will establish legal contracts that clearly indicate who, and under what conditions, will be able to make this important decision for them. The idea that we should deny people basic legal rights because there aren't sufficient legal protections in place is absurd.
posted by nixerman at 5:09 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I totally get what the pro-assisted-suicide folks are saying, although I respectfully disagree.

Anyway, this is worth reading: Legalizing assisted suicide is a "recipe for elder abuse," say protestors

Balfour Mount's interview with Michael Enright is also illuminating.


Number one, denying someone the right to die because it might be abused by bad people is not a reason to keep it from coming into law. Keeping thousands of people suffering against their will is not justified by keeping a handful of criminals from doing criminal things.

Number two, I believe this is solved by nixerman:
This is a non-starter. People, given the chance, will establish legal contracts that clearly indicate who, and under what conditions, will be able to make this important decision for them. The idea that we should deny people basic legal rights because there aren't sufficient legal protections in place is absurd.
posted by Malice at 5:29 PM on June 15, 2012


I heard this on CBC Radio just now, but can't figure out who said it (although the same words appear in a Google Search result from 2009):

First, a doctor from British Columbia noted how the Hippocratic Oath had established a foundation for medical practice that has created centuries of trust for physicians. She described this as being like an old growth forest of trust. The proposition that physicians would abandon the commitments to "never do harm to anyone" and "not give a lethal drug to anyone if asked" would be like asking that a portion of the old growth be clear cut for the perceived benefit of one individual at a time. Of course, the experience in British Columbia - and generally - has been that the clear cutting of old growth forest results in the forest never returning, regardless of the effort made to restore it. For her, the resulting loss of patient/doctor trust that would occur as the result of legalizing doctor facilitated death (whether euthanasia or assisted suicide) would impact her ability to practice medicine even though she would not participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:25 PM on June 15, 2012


That's a rather one-sided definition of "trust" (not to mention "harm"). The knowledge that my doctors will not help me die -- and, in fact, are willing to go to great lengths to put me through an existence I consider torture -- has also led me to distrust my doctors.

This also implies that doctors in places where euthanasia and/or assisted suicide is legal necessarily have a decreased "ability to practice medicine" as compared to doctors in places where euthanasia and/or assisted suicide is legal... and frankly, that's not the impression I get when I look at the list. "Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland" are standard bearers for public care. Every single one of them was ranked higher than Canada the last time the World Health Organization released a report.
posted by vorfeed at 7:08 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Physician-assisted suicide makes it easier to procure organs for transplant.

All you have to do is find some 20-something in a coma from a motor-vehicle accident, convince his next-of-kin that he is suffering and beyond any hope, and pull the plug.

Then you can divvy up the corneas, skin, bones, and viscera and "save some lives".


There's a difference between withdrawing or withholding artificial life support and assisted suicide. And the latter is unlikely to have an impact on organ transplantation. Don't troll.
posted by drpynchon at 7:31 PM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think my reaction to this story is based on an essay I read in the New York Times about ten years ago about a lawyer fighting against a "right to die" law of some kind. The lawyer, a woman, had cerebral palsy or something like that, and from what I recall of the article, her main issue was that such laws really do place an evaluation and a value on human life - people with cerebral palsy (and I'm not intending to create a straw man argument here) can't lead lives worth living, so they should die if they want to.

I'm almost certain you're thinking of Harriet McBryde Johnson, a writer, activist, and severely disabled woman. She died in 2008. Her writing about assisted suicide and how it could affect seriously disabled people made me struggle a lot with my own beliefs on the matter. Ultimately, I do believe it should be legal, but I no longer think it's as simple and clear-cut as I used to. I'm on a phone or I'd link to some of her writing, but I encourage anyone who's interested in a disability rights perspective to google her. (And, of course, it's a perspective, not the perspective.) Hers is an important voice, and I always think of her when people are so certain about this issue.
posted by Mavri at 7:49 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]




We NEED this to happen in our society. We need laws to protect people who are suffering and are going to end it one way or another. Isn't that the only decent thing you can do?

It's decent in a society that has universal healthcare. In the United States, where suffering is compounded by the prospect of your family becoming homeless because of medical bills, it's problematic.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:47 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


We had a close family friend, my great-grandmother's neighbor, who never married and when she died at over age 90 had not a single person left in the world that she knew except for my family.

She was in a nursing home for the last 10 years of her life. And not a nice fancy "community" -- it was an old-school nursing home in a tiny Appalachian town in southeast Ohio, hours from where my family lived. My mother went to visit her as often as possible, and in the last five years or so this family friend would occasionally look off to the side and say, "I'm ready. I've been ready. I just wish someone could ... do something" and then carefully look at my mother.

How awful is that, for both people in that conversation?

This should absolutely be legal everywhere. And it seems like the people protesting it are the aging but still mobile and healthy baby boomers who I'm sure are afraid our increasingly communist socialized healthcare system (here in the US anyway) will create death panels to off them early -- it's not the elderly who legitimately want and need this service because our medical technology has outpaced our sense of social justice.
posted by olinerd at 4:27 AM on June 16, 2012


olinerd, your family friend -- were she alive today -- would not qualify for physician-assisted death à la British Columbia.
posted by de at 5:00 AM on June 16, 2012


Well, one hopes that if the stigma of physician-assisted suicide starts to go away, then "90 years old confined to a wheelchair in a rural nursing home" will be considered a sufficiently terminal condition to qualify.
posted by olinerd at 5:03 AM on June 16, 2012


Determining the quality of someone's life is a class issue .
There are many, many people in British Columbia (and across Canada) who do not have health care; who do not have access to the medical system or care and many who will never be given the choice of physician assisted suicide.
posted by what's her name at 6:59 AM on June 16, 2012


Well I certainly hope they consult their patients for this one.
posted by Meatafoecure at 9:53 AM on June 16, 2012


This is fantastic, it dovetails nicely with my plan to return to BC with my closest friends to die peacefully of an overdose, staring at the Milky Way from some place on the northern side of Vancouver Island, when and if the time comes that my cancer can no longer be managed. The right to die is so important. To be able to choose when and how you will go out, and to do so with comfort and dignity, is a great gift.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 10:24 AM on June 16, 2012


my plan to return to BC with my closest friends to die peacefully of an overdose, staring at the Milky Way from some place on the northern side of Vancouver Island,

To risk sounding morbid, that sounds like a wonderful way to go.
posted by Malice at 3:42 PM on June 16, 2012


I'm almost certain you're thinking of Harriet McBryde Johnson,

Thank you!
posted by KokuRyu at 4:23 PM on June 16, 2012


And it seems like the people protesting it are the aging but still mobile and healthy baby boomers who I'm sure are afraid our increasingly communist socialized healthcare system (here in the US anyway)

Uh, you guys should be so lucky.
posted by jokeefe at 5:11 PM on June 16, 2012


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