“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Living and dying with dignity

Francine Lalonde is a Quebec MP, and assisted suicide advocate. In 2005, she sponsored an assisted suicide bill into Canada’s Parliament (bill C-407). It was unsuccessful. Not to be dissuaded, Madam Lalonde pledged to introduce a new assisted suicide bill into the House of Commons. According to the Ottawa Sun newspaper Lalonde has “the backing of many MPs who believe the time has come to legalize assisted suicide in Canada.”

Don Babey, executive director of Dying with Dignity said, "There are cases I'm aware of every day of people who are just in torture, and there isn't any legal mechanism in Canada today for them to be free of it." Balderdash!

There is a wonderful mechanism to deal with physical pain. It’s called palliative care. There is no need for people to die in agony in the 21st century. Either Mr. Babey is unaware of this, or he's misstating his case to bolster his agenda.

Achieving complete pain relief

The head of palliative care at the Canadian University of Ottawa Medical School, Dr. John Scott, has said:

"The World Health Organization has demonstrated that access to pain-relieving drugs, along with a simple educational program, can achieve relief in the vast majority of patients. Specialists in various parts of the world estimate these basic approaches can control 85 to 98 percent of cases. The remaining cases require more careful attention and the use of multiple drugs and therapies to achieve complete relief. The technology and expertise to deal effectively with the problem of pain has already been developed. Poor pain relief, when it exists, can usually be traced to problems of education and resource allocation." [emphasis added] (Gentles, Ian, ed. EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE: The Current Debate. Toronto: Stoddart Publishing, 1995, p. 96.)

Personal experience

I can personally attest to this: My mother died of cancer in July 2006. She had wide-spread bone cancer (notorious for excruciating pain). It spread to her lungs, brain and soft tissues. In short, she was riddled with cancer. Yet her pain was well controlled and she died peacefully, without pain, surrounded by the love and support of friends and family. This was achieved without putting her into a drugg induced mental haze. All this was done in a small Canadian prairie hospital under the care of a general practitioner who took the time and concern to stay current with the latest pain management techniques. Good state-of-the science of palliative care. If this can be done in a remote area out on bald Canadian prairies , why not major centers?

Decriminalizing or legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide would ultimately strip legal protections from sick and disabled citizens that other Canadians enjoy. Laws and policies pertaining to assisted suicide must not be relaxed. Canada must resist pressures to accept euthanasia and assisted -- and so must other countries.

My journey with multiple sclerosis is slowly destroying me. Yet pain, nausea, spasms and many other unpleasant symptoms of MS have been well controlled. At an emotional level, my family has lifted me up as someone of value, even when I doubted my own value. Pain of the body is easy to control. It is heartache, emotional pain and agony of the soul that are not easy to allay. Love is the only antidote for that suffering.

Achieving real Death with Dignity

There is no need for assisted suicide or euthanasia. There is a need for up-to-date palliative care to be available to all Canadians when they need it. If anyone is dying in pain in 2006, they need a new doctor. If doctors in Canada are euthanizing patients (as some people have suggested) they need to be prosecuted under Canada's Criminal Code. Our goal should always be to provide life with dignity not so-called death with dignity. People do not die with any more dignity than they live with. Dying with dignity is a process not an event. It is impossible to inject dignity into a person's bloodstream when they are at their lowest ebb. Any thinking 10 year old can figure that out.

The answer to pain of the heart and soul is not poison. It is found in love, understanding and acceptance. Give a man life with dignity and he will die with it.

Mark Pickup

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