To Die is an Awfully Big Adventure
A dying process that allows an individual to make choices about treatment, to say goodbyes and to take care of final arrangements is what many people hope for. Such a death might be considered a “good death.” But of course, many deaths do not occur in this way.
Terri Schiavo collapsed in her Florida home after full cardiac arrest in1990. Her heart stopped long enough to deprive her brain of vital oxygen. This led to massive brain damage that continued after her heart was restarted. Doctors made the diagnosis of persistent vegetative state (PVS) within approximately one year after Terri’s sudden cardiac arrest. For the next few years doctors attempted physical therapy and other experimental therapy, hoping to return Terri to a state of awareness.
In May 1998, her husband Michael petitioned the court to remove her feeding tube. He was opposed by Terri’s parents who argued that she was conscious. A court-appointed guardian agreed with doctors that Terri’s condition showed the “absence of voluntary action” and an “inability to communicate or interact purposefully.” After a legal battle that lasted from 1998 to 2005, the court concluded that Terri was in a PVS, and was beyond hope of significant improvement. The court also determined that she would not wish to continue life-prolonging measures, and in 2005 a judge ordered the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. Several appeals and federal government intervention followed. She died on March 31.
The Canadian federal government’s has now proposed a law for doctor-assisted death. This will be restricted to mentally competent adults who have serious and incurable illness, disease or disability. This legislation does not extend to the mentally ill or those with dementia, and does not allow advanced consent for patients with degenerative disorders. Instead, the bill limits access to those “suffering intolerably” and whose death is “reasonably foreseeable.” The bill would also protect people from being encouraged to die in “moments of weakness.” It would include a mandatory 15-day “reflection period” so people don’t make rash decision after a diagnosis.
Is Canada’s legislation related to doctor assisted suicide a good idea or bad? When someone is seriously ill or dying, when should life support be removed? What about severe mental illness or psychological suffering (e.g., severe depression)…should this be eligible for doctor-assisted suicide?
Do some research and include at least three different references (more is better). You can also include personal reflections & experience if you like. Your submission should be at least 800 words (excluding title and references) but can go up to 1500 words.