Monday, October 29, 2012
A couple of months the United Church Observer published an article called Gloria's Choice. It was an interview with Gloria Taylor who was the cheerful, thoughtful, personal face of the assisted suicide court decision in British Columbia. Gloria was a member of a United Church congregation so it was certainly appropriate that she had the conversation with the Observer. http://www.ucobserver.org/features/2012/09/gloria_choice/
Earlier in October CBC's the fifth estate did a feature on Gloria. http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2012-2013/2012/10/the-life-and-death-of-gloria-taylor.html What a feisty, life-loving woman she way. Neither of these interviews could have anticipated Gloria's rather sudden death of natural causes. The right to die on her own terms which she won through the legal system wasn't exercised.
The majority of United Church members support that right to "die with dignity" for those who are terminally ill. which is not surprising in some respects. As many of you will know, I am a dissenting voice and always have been. It's not that I want to see anyone suffer, and I have prayed in many circumstances for a quick death for those who had no chance of returning to health. There are worse things than death, and I have a resurrection hope. I have counselled families not to go to extraordinary lengths to prolong the life of a loved one, and I have been well aware that physicians have brought about the earlier demise of some parishioners through medication without terminating life.
At the same time I figure that our current laws are flexible enough that we don't need to change them. And I have the feeling that the majority of physicians don't want to be put into the position of playing God it these emotionally fraught circumstances. I would like to think that I'm not just a stubborn adherent to a "sanctity of life" ethic that doesn't allow for compassion. I do feel that we have to be incredibly cautious in this regard for the protection of the vulnerable from the unscrupulous. I have seen first hand that not all families are compassionate or have their loved ones' best interests at heart.
Sometimes people will say that we euthanize pets when they are suffering, so why do we prolong the lives of humans who are in pain? Well, our loved ones are not pets, and the dynamics of our human relationships are different. I wish people would give the same energy and attention to effective palliative care in our health system that they do to assisted suicide. Here are a couple of other recent articles which might interest you.
Please feel free to disagree with me on this one! Have you thought this through thoroughly? Have you spoken with loved ones about your own wishes? Have you had the conversation with your doctor? Your pastor or priest?
Are you ready for the Frankenstorm? Take a look at my Groundling blog.