WE BECOMING A SOCIALLY PSYCHOTIC SOCIETY?
By Jean Echlin
(This column originally appear in the Windsor Star, Canada. Posted with permission of the author)
What kind of a
society are we becoming? I question the existence of a societal psychosis,
characterized by a break with reality and deviation from normal thought
processes. We abandon the notion of
executing our most heinous criminals and now appear to be accepting the idea of
executing our most vulnerable citizens.
We provide our criminals with good medical, occupational, entertainment
and educational programs for their betterment. In the case of our elderly we
often fail miserably at providing them with quality of life in our health care
institutions. Many label our elderly and persons with disabilities, including
children, as ‘lives not worth living.’ In
addition this applies to persons with mental health issues. These are the ones
at high risk for abuse if euthanasia is introduced.
This is exactly
what the Quebec National Assembly is proposing in Bill-52 now before the
Assembly for discussion and vote. The ideas
were concocted by the Dying with Dignity Committee report following a request
by the Assembly for research regarding euthanasia and assisted suicide in
Quebec. The recommendation in Bill-52
attaches euthanasia as a component of palliative hospice care. The euphemism used for euthanasia in their
documents is “assistance in dying.” Thus
end-of-life care will include both palliative care and euthanasia. This flies in the face of the Federal
Government’s defeat of Bill-384, introduced by Francine Lalonde MP, Bloc Quebecois,
in 2010. Bill-384 sought to change our
Criminal Code to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide and was overwhelming defeated
by 228 to 59 votes.
Bill-52’s legislative package designates
doctors as the healthcare professionals who will do the
euthanizing/executing. Interestingly in
a recent poll, 88% of Canadian palliative care physicians opposed euthanasia. Moreover in August 2013, the Canadian Medical
Association (CMA) reaffirmed its’ policy on this matter: “Canadian physicians should not participate
in euthanasia or assisted suicide.” The
American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Nurses Association (ANA)
have taken the same stand.
Those in our
society, who want euthanasia as an option, are seeking autonomy without
thinking how this will affect the many vulnerable and often silent voices who
cannot protest. How do you define
autonomy, meaning: "I want death my way, at my request,” when you actually give your
life over to another person who will kill you?
I do not see this as autonomy because you are giving your power to
another person. Executions have been
botched! Mistakes are always possible
even with health care professionals.
charged item in Bill-52 is chronic depression and mental pain/discomfort (which
may be related to existential or spiritual anxiety) qualifies a person for
euthanasia. Who defines this type of
Look back to
1972 at the history of abolition of the death penalty in Canada. The law was
changed because; first, a wrong decision could be made and an innocent person
put to death; second, doctors debated and decided that putting someone to death
was unethical and against their mandate.
Further it was declared INHUMANE to ask one person to kill another
person. Now in 2013 the Quebec National
Assembly has put forth a plan, subject only to provincial jurisdiction that
designates doctors to kill another human being.
Who defines the ethical and moral action of this designation? I do not believe that this designation is ethical,
moral or humane.