Monday, December 5, 2011

Canada Revisits Aid in Dying

A wheelchair bound Canadian grandmother, Gloria Taylor, who has Lou Gherig's disease has asked the British Columbia Supreme Court to allow her doctors to give her a lethal dose of medication so that she can end her life. The decision is expected next year and lawyers predict that the case will be taken to the Canadian Supreme Court. This rather standard article from the AP has a paragraph that caught my attention:

In the latest case now unfolding, Taylor's lead lawyer, civil liberties defender Joe Arvay, argued to the court that assisted suicides were taking place despite the ban, a practice he likened to the illegal "back-alley abortions" of the past.

I've been urging women's rights advocates in the US to pay closer attention to the opposition to certain medical services and treatments. Often those who oppose abortion--"pro-life" and "family and marriage" groups and the Catholic Church, among others--also oppose the legalization of aid in dying. Shame often functions to keep proponents of such services quiet. And yet, abortion and aid in dying have taken place for as long as humans have existed. How they are provided and regulated is perhaps the paramount question for society; they are issues that test our humanity and require us to reckon with a new definition of life and death created by modern medicine.

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