Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

Vulnerable persons need to be protected from Bill C-7, medical assistance in dying

If this law was in effect in 2015, I would not be alive today

Editor:

Open letter to the Senate regarding Bill C-7, which would amend the Criminal Code to permit medical assistance in dying (MAID) for individuals whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable.

Honorable Senators,

I am emailing today humbly requesting that you consider my concerns regarding the expansions proposed in bill C-7 when making your decision on this bill.

I personally have struggled with depression and have experienced transient suicidal ideation. If this law was in effect in 2015, I would not be alive today as I would have requested that my life end as I did not have hope to ever end the mental anguish I felt at the time. Same-day death would have made that a certainty. Fortunately, this was not an option for me and I am now living a full life filled with hope and peace. I am able to not only live but thrive as I serve in my community advocating for individuals with diverse abilities.

Another aspect of what an expansion to MAID that I find deeply concerning is the lack of protection that it would leave for those individuals with mental and physical disabilities.

My husband and I have raised a young man with complex disabilities since infancy. He is now 26 years old. I have had several well-meaning individuals approach me over the years asking “Wouldn’t it be better if he wouldn’t have survived?” or “What quality of life can he have?” I have had children say how they “feel sorry for him,” only to recant their opinion when they have learned that he has enjoyed downhill skiing, snowmobiling, quadding, fishing, trips to Disneyland and horseback riding.

My son has experienced seasons of great physical struggle as he painfully navigated through surgery after surgery resulting from the side effects of having cerebral palsy. He lost months of his life as he rehabilitated at Sunny Hill Health Center with complications following hip surgery. Just over a year later he was limited in the activities he could participate in following spinal surgery to correct scoliosis for another year.

That season has thankfully passed and he is now relatively pain free and enjoys many of the aforementioned activities. Had this law been in effect while he was suffering during these trying medical issues, I wonder if he would be alive today. Or, if the doctors or others managing his case would have deemed him as suffering unnecessarily.

Without the need for consent at the moment and removal of the need for two independent witnesses he would more than likely NOT be alive today. His life contributes not only to our personal family but to our community as others enjoy his smile and unconditional acceptance. He brings hope to those who are suffering when they see him smile. Others see the value and potential of a full life when he participates in local activities such as the annual Sleigh Ride.

In light of my own personal experiences I ask that you please see the flaws in the bill as it stands and add the necessary amendments that would protect those in these vulnerable positions. I welcome any feedback from you or further discussion you may want to engage in.

Debbie Still

Vanderhoof, B.C.

Editor’s note: According to the Department of Justice, Bill C-7 would amend the Criminal Code to permit medical assistance in dying (MAID) for individuals whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable. However, the Bill would continue to prohibit MAID for individuals whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness.

Letter to the Editor