The news story about the Belgian twin brothers who were euthanized on 14 December 2012, was the first story I read when I got home from work. The brothers, while in relatively good health at present, were given a prognosis of blindness and the thought of not being able to see each other put them in a state of despair. In the peace and quiet of an empty house, I became sadder and sadder as I continued to read.
Closer to home, Quebec’s National Assembly thinks it has found a way to circumvent existing Canadian laws prohibiting euthanasia and physician assisted suicide by calling for legalized assisted suicide in rare circumstances. Euthanasia proponents here in Canada who state emphatically that strict regulations will be applied to any legal euthanasia procedures are only fooling themselves or, perhaps, trying to fool us. Once the flood gates are opened, there will be no stopping the insanity. The Belgian incident is proof of that.
As a registered nurse working in the community, that morning I had visited patients in a nursing home and then, later that day, made a stop at a retirement residence. Each day, I care for people who are frail, suffering from debilitating physical and mental conditions, and struggling to get through the day. Those who are relatively healthy and independent worry about the day when they will no longer be able to help themselves. When I read an article such as the one about the Belgian twins, my heart is heavy because my patients are the most likely candidates for euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Professor Margaret Somerville, founding director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics, and Law, McGill University, wrote the following in an article for the National Post Newspaper on 17 January 2013: “legalization … is especially dangerous for old or disabled people. If euthanasia is an option, they are likely to perceive themselves as a burden on their families and on society, which they could relieve through euthanasia. They could even feel they have a duty to die.”