Wednesday, 25 July 2012


The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) warns Canada is veering in a "dangerous direction" towards euthanasia and assisted suicide and urges Catholics to enter the public debate on end-of-life care.  So reads the introduction of a recent article carried by The Register.

The first thing that serious readers should note about The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) about euthanasia is that it voices its concerns not with compassion or healing but instead uses fear and false warnings to prevent the eventual legalization of euthanasia in Canada. One particular offensive question posed by COLF is “would you like to wonder one day, as you enter the hospital, 'Will they treat me or kill me?' ” For me this is the ultimate insult to the Canadian medical profession and caregivers everywhere. This is pure invention and hides the truth as I have come to understand the matter personally.

Having learned the real facts behind euthanasia as it applied to the recent death of a dear friend in Holland it is time to put this matter in its proper perspective.
Mark (not his real name) was first diagnosed with cancer almost four years ago. Unlike myself he responded negatively to all of the current conventional cancer treatments, including radiation and chemo. As a result his body slowly deteriorated, but never his courageous spirit. Thus he finally put his hope in experimental drugs administered at a well known university cancer clinic. Again his body was severely affected by this trial and pain began to surface. He began to experience terrible pain. A pain that could only be lessened with measured doses of morphine. Mark deeply understood well how his cancer and suffering was affecting not only himself but his entire family, wife, daughter, son-in-law and favoured six year old grandson. It was at this point he began to research the question of euthanasia.

Euthanasia in Holland can only legally begin after a very strong bond and trust between patient and doctor has been established. The process is then continuously and closely supervised by two independent physicians. Only when it is established that medical science can do nothing more for the patient can specific and agreed upon method of euthanasia be considered. The patient must be fully conscious from the moment he and his doctor agree to proceed to the final stage. Mark reached that decision on a Saturday evening following another day of excruciating pain that the morphine could not reach. Unfortunately, his trusted doctor was out of town and would not return until Monday. Try to imagine the stress Mark, with his family at his bedside, must have experienced at this stage of his suffering. However, the doctors present informed Mark that they could administer an immediate heavy dose of morphine that would allow him to slip into a peaceful a coma and eventual death. This lethal method is well recognized in the medical world including Canada. So whether we like it or not or prefer a more euphemistic term for euthanasia has been among us for many, many years.

But Mark did not wish to die by means of a lethal morphine injection. Instead he wanted to depart only by the means agreed upon by his personal physician. When that trusted doctor returned on Monday morning matters were quickly settled, but not before a further mandatory 24 hour waiting period had to be observed.

Mark died peacefully in the presence of his loving family the following day.

UPDATE (August 10,2012):  

A recent poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion as reported by the Catholic Register has found that eighty per cent of Canadians and 77 per cent of the British said that doctors should be allowed to assist terminally ill to perform euthanasia.

UPDATE (February 19,2014)
I can truly understand arguments for and against euthanasia having lost a dear friend who valiantly chose euthanasia when all medical efforts to control his pain and suffering finally failed.  So it upsets me whenever I hear opponents for euthanasia use the fear filled term ‘slippery slope’ and fail to support their argument with any personal experience and any lack of compassion.  Who decides that God was absent when my friend, together with his family, made that final decision?
God’s gift of Faith is based on His unconditional love for all his creation and never ever based on fear.  The lack of compassion together with the use of fear avoids the possibility of finding God in all situations and conditions.         

"In logic and critical thinking, a slippery slope is a logical device, but is usually known under its fallacious form in which a person asserts that some event must inevitably follow from another without any rational argument or demonstrable mechanism for the inevitability of the event in question. A slippery slope argument states that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant effect, much like an object given a small push over the edge of a slope sliding all the way to the bottom. The strength of such an argument depends on the, i.e. whether or not one can demonstrate a process which leads to the significant effect. The fallacious sense of "slippery slope" is often used synonymously with continuum fallacy, in that it ignores the possibility of middle ground and assumes a discrete transition from category A to category B. Modern usage avoids the fallacy by acknowledging the possibility of this middle ground."  Wikipedia 

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