“This is a very special day for me. It’s the day of my release, therelease from suffering, the release from the torment of my body.
” Those were thewords of the very first Canadian to die through the process of doctor assisted-suicide, with the doctor being Jack Kevorkian. His name was Austin Bastable, andin the last few years of his life he became a crusader for the right to die withdignity. It has been only in these last few years, with the introduction ofpeople such as Dr. Jack Kevorkian and Austin Bastable, that the world has begunto see the benefits made possible by the act of assisted-suicide.Order now
The preventionof suffering and pain made possible through this medicide, regarded as immoralfor years, affects not only the patient but their immediate and distantrelatives as well. Kevorkian told a judicial court the same one day in lateApril, early May: “Suicide is not the aim. Eliminating suffering is the aim, butyou pay a price with the loss of a life. ” Although Kevorkian’s methods havesucceeded with some difficulty, in the USA, their northern neighbour, our greatdominion of Canada, disallows the administration of this relieving practice. Inour grand country assisted suicide is illegal. Cases of other terminally ill persons have surfaced throughout the news,the most prominent being those related to Dr.
“Death” Kevorkian. We don’t oftenthink on what a terminally ill person might be like. They might be sufferingfrom Lou Gehrig’s Disease. They might be suffering from multiple sclerosis. Theymight be suffering from any number of other types of injuries and diseases. Whatwe don’t think about are the cases that bring out our most empathetic feelings.
Take the case of one Christine Busalacchi, who was so severely injuredin an accident that she now lives in what her father calls a “persistentvegetative condition. ” Vegetative is precisely the word to describe hercondition. She has lost enough weight to cause her to appear as someone else. She has her right leg bent with her knee always in the air and her left foot isfrozen in a quite unnatural manner. Her skin remains milk white, the kind ofcolour one would associate with the skin of dead bodies. She chews constantly,often gagging on her own saliva.
She has a gastrostomy tube protruding from herstomach. Nurses have to come every so often to change her diaper. She will neverrespond to any stimulus voluntarily, only through reflex action, and thatreaction will be only in her brain. A well-known neurologist pointed out how herbrain now only includes those parts of it that control the reflexive actions,such as chewing, rather than those parts that make us human. Christine is notthe only person in that situation.
Many others are forced to live the rest oftheir artificial lives in a prison where freedom is taken captivethe freedom todie. Canada’s laws against assisted-suicide have been attacked before. Themost well known “right-to-die” campaigners in Canada are the late Sue Rodriguezand the late Austin Bastable. Sue Rodriguez led the “right-to-die” campaignagainst the government in 1993, where a ban against assisted-suicide wasnarrowly upheld. Sue later died in an assisted suicide in 1994. Bastable becomeknown to many Canadians in early May of this year.
He became the first Canadianto die with the aid of Dr. Kevorkian, as well as the first non-American to do so,on May 6th. Bastable was said to have had a videotape recorded for the purposeof being shown during a media briefing in Toronto: “My death is a blow forfreedom, not just for myself but for every rational Canadian who someday maywish to have a choice in how they will die. “Comparing cases such a Christine’s, Sue’s and Austin’s it becomes clearthat quite a few people support the concept of assisted-suicide.
In fact,physician-assisted voluntary euthanasia is favoured three-to-one according topolls taken in the USA. Of course, the USA is not Canada, but how much differentcan we be. Still, although our countries have a long way to go in providingpeople the right to die, there are some places where our species is beginning tosee the light. The Northern Territory of Australia’s legislature became the first inthe world to allow voluntary euthanasia in May of this year. Bob Dent became thefirst person to kill himself under the world’s only such law. Yet this act initself had profound results; federal lawmakers drawing legislature to makedoctor assisted-suicide illegal.
The papal system of the Vatican voiced itsopinion of the event exclaiming that no law or human suffering could justifyeuthanasia. Arguments such as these have no substance at all, if one looks closely. Dent, in a letter to his government, made numerous points that show this. Heargued that “If I were to keep a pet animal in the same condition I am in, Iwould be prosecuted. ” He also restated the already widely known fact thatreligion and state must be kept separated: “What right has anyone, because oftheir own religious faith (to which I don’t subscribe), to demand that I behaveaccording to their rules until some omniscient doctor decides that I have hadenough and goes ahead and increases my morphine until I die?” The answer to thatquestion is undeniably, NONE, no right at all.
With time, and the understanding of the public, the right to diecampaign can be won. People would have the freedom to decide when they have hadenough suffering and how they wish to die. Yet the time it will take is mostprobably a long one. Many problems and obstacles must be overcome, from theoppression of religious organisations to the negative image portrayed by biasedmedia. In time these organisations might see the light, and we will all be ableto go gentle into that good night.Category: Philosophy