All Canadians deserve death with dignity

Nobody wants to die in pain, with their dignity stripped from them. Most of us would like to die in our sleep, in our own beds, after living a long and happy life.

But some of us don’t get that option. It is cruelly taken away by illnesses we cannot fight and recover from.

In such instances, people should have the right to choose to end their lives while they are still mentally intact and not suffering terrible physical distress. Of course, some will choose to continue to fight to the very last breath, and there is nothing

wrong with that choice.

But the other choice should also be available to us, and we should be allowed to ask for help from medical professionals to accomplish our death with dignity in the most painless manner possible.

Right now in Canada, this is a crime, but we think the time is fast approaching when that will change.

More and more people are speaking out about how they want to leave this life and the fact that our government should respect their wishes.

A story in the Times Colonist last week described the case of a 76-year-old man dying of cancer, who wants to end his own pain before he suffers the slow death his brother did when a tumour attacked his brother’s brain.

He describes it as wanting to go like his cat, who was taken to the vet and humanely euthanized after it had a stroke.

He stated he deserves the option of the same treatment.

He’s not wrong.

In August, 84-year-old Gillian Bennett of Bowen Island killed herself after posting an open letter about her intentions and reasons online in her bid to reopen debate about assisted suicide in Canada. She suffered from dementia, and chose to die peacefully in her garden, with her husband by her side, rather than becoming, in her own words, a “mindless body”.

She was careful to get the drugs she used herself, so that nobody could be accused of helping her, which is illegal.

How different is the case of 29-year-old terminally ill Brittany Maynard, who has chosen to die on Nov. 1. She will die using medication provided by her doctor, surrounded by her family. Because

Maynard lives in Oregon, where they have a Death With Dignity Act. This law has helped over 750 people to choose a painless death over protracted suffering since it came into effect.

It’s time for Canada to have a similar law put into place.

This week the Supreme Court of Canada will hear arguments from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and several families that the laws against assisted suicide are unconstitutional.

We hope the choice will be made to allow Canadians the option of deciding how to finish our final days