Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Great CBC feature film on assisted Dying in Canada on The National

The National broadcast last night the first of a three part investigation on the assisted dying issue. Check it out here.


  1. It's telling me "The selected item is not currently available" :(

    Fortunately I was able to see it on the National's YouTube account:

    That raises another question... if someone has a heavily-used YouTube account, why would they ever bother attempting (and failing) to host their own video? If you want to be better than YouTube, the first rule is to be better than YouTube.

  2. Ha, thanks for posting the youtube link. I checked the link in my blog entry again, and it's working. I wonder whether there's a problem for folks not residing in Canada, either way,your youtube link is much appreciated!

  3. I'm in Japan at the moment and it's working fine for me.

    Thanks for this.

  4. Udo, thanks for bringing this to my (our) attention. I was not aware of it, since I no longer bother watching TV. One of the issues that was not raised here has to do with people enduring long term suffering. This is also something not addressed by any of the assisted dying laws in the US as well. As you know, my wife Elizabeth went to Switzerland when her MS got to the point where she did not feel that she would be able much longer to administer the drugs necessary to end her life. She was in considerable pain, and suffered from paralysis of most of her body. But she was not, within the meaning usually given to the term, dying. She might have lived for several years completely paralysed, unable to speak or even to swallow food. She was not willing to be trapped in her body, so she went to Dignitas in Zurich to receive help to die. This long-drawn-out period of suffering that some people endure before they die (because the nature of their disease or state) is something that assisted dying laws must take into consideration. I have (only within the last few days) come up with a term (I do not know whether it is in use in the literature) to refer to this state: Terminal Suffering. That is, suffering that can only be relieved by death. While I agree with the Supreme Court judge in the video (I already forget his name - such are the ravages of time!) that the Swiss solution might be the best one, if this is not acceptable to lawmakers, the distinction drawn by the idea of terminal suffering, and its similarity to terminal prognosis, may be able to help lawmakers make the jump from helping the dying to helping those who face long periods of irremediable suffering before they die, and see the similarity of the appeal that each make. I am afraid that if the law is in terms of terminal prognosis only, it will not meet the needs of many people who are appealing for a change in the law.

    I write this to you here, because (1) you probably have a better idea whether such a concept would be helpful in the circumstances, and (2) I have within the last couple of weeks decided to close down my blog, choiceindying.com.

    Once again, thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  5. Eric, thanks for writing in - I'm so sorry to hear that you have decided to close down your valuable blog. In terms of your question. The current Quebec legislation doesn't require 'terminal illness', mostly because there is no such a thing as a clinical condition called 'terminal illness'. Since then the Liberals in the legislature (the 'Liberals') have raised the missing 'terminal illness' as a concern that they want to see addresses before they'd support it. I think this is typical of a political party that has only one goal power for individual senior functionaries. The concept of liberalism clearly is foreign to today's liberal leadership. A sad indictment of the state of political affairs in the country.

  6. Udo, thanks for your reply. I wasn't thinking in terms of the Quebec legislation alone. I am afraid that, when (if?!) this ever gets to parliament, the issue of "terminality" in one sense or another will be crucial. Terminal illness is the way most such laws are being written, especially here in North America. And Dignity in Dying in the UK has simply dismissed my more liberal conception of the right to die as a license to kill. Dignity in Dying has accepted terminal prognosis (in line with Terry Pratchett and the Falconer Commission) as a necessary criterion, as did Margo Macdonald's Scottish bill. I agree that it is a sad indictment of the state of political affairs in the country, but my proposal was designed precisely to address this issue. If people could see that there is a clear parallel between those with a terminal prognosis (not a terminal illness, for, as your rightly say, there is no such clinical condition), and those with terminal suffering (as I have defined it), perhaps they could be persuaded to drop the deeply questionable notion of terminal illness, where so many seem to have come to rest so that they may be seen to stand for safeguards -- apparently the only way they think their seats can be protected from outraged religious believers. On the other hand, of course, to a large extent I agree with the judge in the CBC documentary, who thinks the Swiss solution might be best, since there is no evidence that the law in Switzerland, which has been in force since 1941 (some say 1942), has been abused. This, however, still does not deal with people like Sue Rodriguez, who are unable to administer the lethal medicaments. And that is one of the problems with the Quebec legislation, for it should provide for PAS, and it would be a hard sell in Canada to convince people that the only acceptable way is to consider euthanasia a mode of medical care. This, of course, is an attempt to sneak under the Federal/Provincial division of the spoils: health to the provinces, criminal law to Ottawa.

    I am sorry, too, to have closed down the blog. It may be only a temporary thing. I am keeping the domain name. I seem to have got caught up in the disputes around the new atheism which has been something of a frustration to me. I am, quite frankly, a bit fed up with the "party of science" and its amateur philosophy, and I needed to step back and reassess where I am at this point. I haven't that many years of useful life left, and I would like to use it as wisely as I can.


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