News and Opinions

  • July 22, 2014
    Disability organizations typically oppose assisted dying, but are they right to do so?  When UK based Dignity in Dying commissioned a survey of disabled individuals the results even surprised us!
  • July 22, 2014

    Dr Richard Wesley, who has Lou Gehrig's disease, which wastes away muscles and is incurable, with his wife in 2012. He has been prescribed assisted-death drugs.


    "Americans are death-phobic and grief-illiterate," according to Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion and Choices, citing a Canadian spiritual writer named Stephen Jenkinson. Here is an excellent article of the state of peaceful choices in Oregon where medically assisted dying has been legal for 17 years.


    See also...Oregon's report for 2013 published

                ...20 Years of Living with Oregon's Death With Dignity Act.

  • July 20, 2014
    Richard Branson has become the latest famous face to lend his support to the campaign for an assisted dying law.
    In this article in The Independent he writes...The House of Lords needs to look Oregon in the US, where an assisted dying law has worked for over 16 years.. The state has reported no cases of abuse and no calls to extend the law beyond terminally ill, mentally competent adults.
  • July 19, 2014

    Please read this story about the Teske family by Sandra Martin.

    Like the story of Nagui Morcos, Donald Low and many others this story shows why we fight for choice if a competent adult decides that their own life has no further quality.

    This article is not an intellectual discussion about our rights under the Charter, or if there are slippery slopes or if life is sacred. It is a heart-wrenching description of a family suffering with Huntington's disease and how each individual from Gwen, the 80 year old matriarch, to her grandchildren, Shelby and Chantelle, both in their early 20's, cope with their relationships, jobs and living conditions in a myriad of different ways while living under the conditions imposed by this unspeakably bad disease.

    “Between 10 and 20 years to complete the course,” novelist Ian McEwan writes of the disease’s inexorable march in Saturday, “from the first small alterations of character, tremors in the hands and face, emotional disturbance, including – most notably – sudden, uncontrollable alterations of mood, the helpless jerky dance-like movements, intellectual dilapidation, memory failure, agnosia, apraxia, dementia, total loss of muscular control rigidity sometimes, nightmarish hallucinations and a meaningless end. This is how the brilliant machinery of being is undone by the tiniest of faulty cogs, the insidious whisper of ruin, a single bad idea lodged in every cell, on every chromosome four.”


    Why does our Criminal Code provide jail time for people who help loved ones avoid situations like this? It makes no sense and it must change!!!

  • July 18, 2014

    The Peers in the UK's House of Lords have spoken.  

    After a debate of nine hours and 43 minutes of debate the bill was granted its second reading and now goes forward to a committee of the whole House for scrutiny. Lord Falconer described it as a “historic day”.  Will Canada be next?

    Here's a summary of the debate and some great photos.

  • July 18, 2014

    After a full day of debate about Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill in the House of Lords in Westminster the debate was all tied up.

    30 speakers were in favour of the bill and 30 were against it. In this article in the Guardian the writer, Rowena Mason, suggests that ...With such an equal split in those arguing for and against the bill, it will probably not be forced to a vote but waved through to its committee stage for further examination.

    Stay tuned. It's not over yet!

  • July 16, 2014

    On Friday the House of Lords will debate the Assisted Dying Bill and, according to this article, the battle for votes is heating up.

    On Wednesday 27 top physicians signed a letter urging the Lords to support the bill. The letter says that terminally ill people who suffer 'unendurably' should be allowed to end their lives.

    On the same day 23 religious leaders signed a letter opposing the bill. However, a survey by Lancaster University of 4,500 people suggested church leaders were out of step with their congregations on assisted dying. Researchers found that around 70 per cent of believers want a change in the law.

    See also.......Sir Patrick Stewart campaigns for the right to die with dignity.

    and............Senior churchwoman in U.K. supports dying with dignity.


  • July 16, 2014

    In this magazine article from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto two physicians discuss the importance of talking about medically assisted dying and how Dr. Don Low helped the conversation.

    See also....Dr. Donald Low (1945 - 2013)

                ....First Dr. Don Low, now lawyer, Edward Hung.


  • July 13, 2014

    As the vote on Lord Falconer's bill comes closer the British press is full of discussion of the right to die.

    In the Guardian's article today, Bishop Desmond Tutu decries the treatment that South Africa's Nelson Mandela received at the end of his life and he fully supports the right for people to choose.

    The manner of Nelson Mandela's prolonged death was an affront. I have spent my life working for dignity for the living. Now I wish to apply my mind to the issue of dignity for the dying.



  • July 12, 2014

    The former Archbishop nixes the 'sanctity of life' argument.

    George Carey says in this article in the Daily Mail   ‘Today we face a central paradox. In strictly observing the sanctity of life, the Church could now actually be promoting anguish and pain, the very opposite of a Christian message of hope.’

    Thanks to the advocacy of Tony Nicklinson and his family the ex-Archbishop is supporting Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill. It will go to a free vote next week in the House of Lords.

    Read more at ....Link to the bill

                         ....Assisted suicide laws fail to protect or punish, says Lord Falconer.

                         ....Tony Nicklinson


  • gloria taylor
    July 7, 2014

    On July 4th, the Supreme Court of Canada Ruled that Dying With Dignity has been given the right to intervene in the case of Gloria Taylor (Carter et. al. vs. Attorney General for Canada).

  • July 5, 2014

    It makes me weep writing about this, as I was only a young teen at the time and had no say in my granfather's care or the manner of his dying. I could only watch. It took days before his hollowed out corpse died. I don’t think it made any family member stronger or closer, and I certainly will never allow that happen to me.

    So writes Alan Scantland in the National Post. His experience of the deaths of some family members has been horrific.
    Surely there is a better way than going through this!
  • July 4, 2014

    But preparing a plan is neither difficult nor depressing.

    There are five steps for creating your advance care plan:

    THINK about what's right for you. What's important to you about your care?
    LEARN about different medical procedures. Some may improve your quality of life, while others may not. 
    CHOOSE a Substitute Decision Maker, someone who is willing and able to speak for you if you can't speak for yourself.
    TALK about your wishes with your Substitute Decision Maker, loved ones and health care team.
    RECORD your wishes -- write them down, record them or make a video.

    Here is an article by Daren Heyland and Sharon Baxter about the process. It is a reflection and communication about personal care preferences in the event that you become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care.

    Sharon Baxter is the Executive Director of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA). Sharon also sits on the Board of Trustees of the Worldwide Palliative Care and the International Children's Palliative Care Alliance. 

    See DWD's materials about the procedures for an advanced care plan in your province.

  • July 3, 2014

    In an editorial in the BMJ, Dr Fiona Godlee, editor in chief, Dr Tony Delamothe, UK editor and Rosamund Snow, patient editor, say "recognition of an individual's right to determine his or her best interests lies at the heart of this journal's strategy to advance the patient revolution in healthcare. It would be perverse to suspend our advocacy at the moment a person's days were numbered."

    They argue that people should be able to exercise choice over their lives, which should include how and when they die, when death is imminent.

    The majority of the British public want the option too, they add. The 2010 British Social Attitudes survey shows that 82% of people are in favour of a change in the law on assisted dying.

    To read the article in full follow the bouncing ball...

  • July 2, 2014

    Lord Falconer's Bill on choice at the end of life will be debated on 18th July in the UK. Here is a synopsis of the situation in the UK written by Michael Charouneau, from Dying In Dignity. 

    It seems that the Brits have the same problems that Canadians do...a huge majority of the population that wants the anachronistic laws changed and a government wilfully refusing to even discuss the topic.

    We hope that the parliament in Westminster takes a giant leap into the present on the 18th of this month.

    See also....Good Lord! Medically assisted dying to be debated by House of Lords.

                     Professor Stephen Hawking backs right to die for the terminally ill

  • June 27, 2014

    One day, society will look back at the way we currently allow some people to spend their last stretch of time on Earth, and it will abhor us, writes Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail

    Here is his heart-rending description of the suffering that he witnessed while his brother was dying of cancer. “I want to die, Gary. Please let me die.” he cried.

    Why do Canadians (except those living in Quebec) have to suffer abominably when they are in unremitting pain?

    Why are our laws regarding help to die, that were enacted in 1887 and came from Victorian England, still in force today? They must be changed! 

  • June 27, 2014

    The suffering of Prometheus.


    Pain’s silent companion is loneliness.

    Pain makes you older.

    Pain makes your world so small that sometimes you can measure it in inches.

    When you’re in real pain, the case of pills on your bedside table feels like the most precious thing you own.

    Not everyone wants to be a hero. Some people just want the pain to end.

    In this article, Jonathan Kay, a columnist at the National Post, describes his few days of crippling pain and voices his support for Quebec's new law. In my experience what he says is absolutely true!


    Other stuff...The last few weeks can be hell

                         Doctors don't want pain for themselves

  • June 27, 2014

    Dr. Rodney Syme writes about the language that should be used in discussing the right to die in this article in The Saturday Paper.

    See also...Watch your language!

                    The power of language

  • June 25, 2014

    Will this be repeated in Canada when our Supreme court hears the Carter case?...........

    Britain’s highest court has issued a direct challenge to Parliament to consider legalising assisted suicide or see judges stepping in.

    In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court concluded that it has the power to declare a 50-year-old law criminalizing acts actively helping someone to take their own life “incompatible” with human rights.


  • Sandra Bem
    June 23, 2014

    Sandy was 65 years old, an unsentimental woman and strong willed. For her, a life without books and the ability to recognize the people she loved wasn't a life she wanted.

    And so she decided there was only one thing to do. Sandy's plan was to wait until the last conceivable moment that it was physically possible hasten her own death and then to quietly take her own life.

  • american flag
    June 20, 2014

    According to Maya Rhodan, writing in Time on 18th June seven out of 10 Americans support euthanasia, according to a new Gallup poll, continuing a consistent trend showing that Americans are generally in favor of laws that allow doctors to end patients’ lives in a painless manner.

    The poll results come just days after the death of famed radio host Casey Kasem, whose family publicly quarreled over his end-of-life care. Gallup notes that the poll was conducted before Kasem’s death, which came following a battle with dementia.

  • Susan Griffiths
    June 18, 2014
    This powerful opinion piece from the Regina Leader Post 's columnist Naomi Lakritz debunks the arguments made against assisted dying and gets to what she sees as the crux of the matter: 

    "But the main reason why arguments against assisted-dying laws are specious is that the people making them generally do not have a clue what dying is like. 
  • sign the petition
    June 18, 2014

    Sign this petition if you believe no one should have to suffer unbearably at end of life.  No one should have to die too early.* No one should have to die violently or alone.

    For too long, Canadians facing the prospect of a horrific death have had too few choices. Dr. Don LowGloria Taylor, and Nagui Morcos are just a few of those who have suffered because of a lack of options. 

  • parliament buildings
    June 13, 2014

    The House of Commons recently passed a motion that says, in part.......

    The government should establish a Pan-Canadian Palliative and End-of-life Care Strategy by working with provinces and territories on a flexible, integrated model of palliative care that has the goal of

    (i) ensuring all Canadians have access to high quality home-based and hospice palliative end-of-life care,

    (ii) providing more support for caregivers,

    (iii) improving the quality and consistency of home and hospice palliative end-of-life care in Canada,

    (iv) encouraging Canadians to discuss and plan for end-of-life care. 

    We couldn't agree more that these are worthy goals and we support each of them.

    But it does seem odd that the M.P.s are encouraging Canadians to discuss and plan for end-of-life care but that the Commons, as a whole, refuse to debate it.

    More details from the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association can be found here.


    See also...Let's talk about palliative care.

  • italian hospital
    June 13, 2014

    “It’s a well-established practice in all Italian hospitals but nobody talks about it.”

    It seems that medical staff in Italian hospitals are facing the usual dilemmas over withdrawal of treatment and other types of medically assisted dying. Here is an article from Edizione Italiana that sheds light on this and exposes some gross violations of patient rights.

    Sound familiar? Does it happen in Canada? Let us know. Put your story in the "Comments" below.


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