I am not writing this to oppose the Supreme Court ruling on assisted death. If I were on the bench and wore the black robes and had the obligation thrust on me to make one of the most important judgements in the history of Canada, I would likely have made the same one that nine professional jurists did. So I am not here in opposition. But please allow me to tell you what I do oppose.
I oppose the judgement that our society has made about who is worthy and who is not. I oppose the idea that if you don’t have the perfect health, or weight, or height, or face, or hair, or teeth, that you are a less than. I oppose the idea that if you think for yourself and don’t regurgitate the answers the politically correct have to every question of the day, simple or complex, than you are a less than. I oppose the idea that if you want to pursue a career without the benefit of a liberal arts or science or engineering degree, you must be a less than. We make lots of choices in life. Very few of them are life and death. But the totality of those choices, inform us as to who we really are and who we are not.
I oppose the idea that you need to judge yourself by how others judge you. Because when you do that you end making many, many, many choices that you are not attracted to, happy with, or committed to. You go nowhere in this life believing that if you’re not running with the herd, you’re not worthy of being in the race, not worthy of life itself. I oppose living without passion and doing things merely to please others. I oppose living a life minus curiosity, challenge, or thinking outside the box. And now for life and death.
Most people never get a choice to tell a doctor, “It’s over. My physical or psychological pain is getting worse and will never get better. Please put more in the drip or give me a needle because my journey is over.” This kind of request has been made thousands of times in our history and has been fulfilled without court trials or Supreme Court hearings or news headlines. But sometimes the specific circumstances of what we officially call 'doctor assisted death' are somewhat different. Here’s what I oppose. I oppose the idea that people in the final days of life will surrender what little precious life they have because it’s what the herd is doing, or worse, because they "don't want to be a burden". I oppose agreeing to life and death judgements because others have made the decision for you that this is the right way to go. I oppose that more isn't being done in the areas of Palliative care and effective pain management to end suffering. But in the end I believe that human beings should be the ultimate decision makers in their own lives. It is not government’s job to force an individual to stay a hostage inside his or her own infirmed body.
I believe that compassion, human liberty, and informed choice compel me to agree with the Supreme Court ruling. But I am not an enthusiastic supporter and never will be. I understand enough about my own life and the lives of my fellow human beings to know that the legalization, and indeed what comes with it - the encouragement of assisted death, will take as much as it gives. And it will take prematurely the lives of many people who just want to go along to get along, even when it comes to going away forever.
Thanks for listening to my conscience. I am looking forward as always to hearing yours.
I am Charles Adler.