Did you know that doctor assisted suicide is in fact legal in Canada? Oh, they don’t call it that, and any palliative care doctor would say that doctor assisted suicide is illegal. Well, it is illegal for a doctor to give a terminally ill patient an overdose in order to hasten death. However, something called deep sedation is perfectly legal to provide to the terminally ill, both in the cases of untreatable severe physical pain and for existential distress. What most of the definitions don’t bother to mention is when the patient is under deep sedation, she can neither eat nor drink, and essentially dies of thirst. I have no real problem with this for people for whom death is iminent and who are in untreatable physical pain: However, I have a huge problem when it is administered for “existential distress”. By definition, anybody who is dieing is probably in “existential distress”. We should be helping people to deal with it, not providing a method for suicide. I have a relative who is in palliative care who has asked for deep sedation, for “existential distress”, and I seem to be the only person involved who thinks that this is immoral. Even her priest agrees with her. I even had a call from the social worker, who under the pretense of trying to find out how I feel about this, argued with me about calling it suicide, and tried to preassure me into supporting the decision.
I’m shocked that this is legal; I’m shocked that there are people in the world who think it is moral to sedate someone into unconsciousness and then let them die of thirst; the whole thing is just saddening beyond belief.