Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: The Right to Die

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: The Right to Die

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: The right to die


An editorial from the Prince George Citizen, published June 21:

Whatever one's moral stance on doctor-assisted suicide or whether doctors or family should decide when a patient comes off life-support systems, the debate still comes down to one nagging question.

Whose life is it?

Framed so simply, it sets out life through the lens of the individual, as something that is owned and controlled by the person living the life. In that context, proponents of doctor-assisted suicide are using the same language as supporters of abortion.

My body is mine, not the state's.

It's my choice and not the business of people with different ethics.

It's a private decision, made between me and my doctor.

That's not to say that people who support doctor-assisted suicide also condone abortion - they just use similar arguments.

In the same way, the arguments against abortion are also used against doctor-assisted suicide.

It devalues life.

It is ethically wrong.

It damages the moral fibre of society.

From that perspective, the question -- whose life is it? -- is all wrong.

Life is sacred and can't be owned in any context. Asking who owns life is as ridiculous as wondering who owns the sky.

It's no wonder there will never be agreement on abortion or doctor-assisted suicide or any of those vexing social issues. One side sees these matters as personal choice based on common sense and the other sees them in a much broader ethical context, where social standards and cohesion must override individualism or else anarchy ensues.

That's where it becomes easier to make a call.

Despite the handwringing of social conservatives who insisted that all hell would surely come when a variety of individual rights were extended, democracy didn't fail in cases ranging from a women's right to vote, the elimination of the death penalty, the legalization of abortion to allowing Sikhs to wear turbans while in RCMP formal dress.

Democracy thrives in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland, where doctor-assisted suicide is permitted. …

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