Canada’s Parliament will be returning Dec. 3 and one of the first things on the agenda will be the issue of assisted suicide, something that the Supreme Court has said must be addressed soon. Given that, I thought might be appropriate to re-post some of my thoughts on the subject from earlier this year. Who knows, maybe some new parliamentarians will read these posts and think a little deeper as a result.
In anticipation of euthanasia being legalized in Canada, medical schools are scrambling to update their curriculum. Thanks to the Supreme Court they now have to teach physician assisted suicide.
Or think they may have to – at this point there is no death curriculum. The whole issue is in legal limbo right now and won’t be settled until the Fall at the earliest.
Not surprisingly there are physicians and medical students who are less than thrilled at the prospect of taking a life. Apparently killing people is not high on the list of reasons a person enters the medical profession. Who would have thought that?
There are, of course, the usual assurances that no-one will be asked to go against their conscience when assisted suicide formally becomes legal, but I doubt those assurances mean much. If the Supreme Court has ruled that this is something the medical profession must do, then they will eventually make it mandatory for everyone practicing medicine. There have been too many precedents, the court riding roughshod over people’s beliefs, for me to think there will be any other result.
I can however offer a solution to the government, to the courts and to anyone else wresting with this issue. Don’t foist it on the doctors. Most of them don’t want the responsibility and aren’t trained in ending lives. Their goal is to preserve them.
There is a group of dedicated, caring professionals who unfortunately do have experience in such end-of-life issues, who on a regular basis have the sad duty to humanely end their patients’ life. They do so with regret, but they do it. And unlike the doctors and nurses toiling in our hospitals, they are already trained for it.
I am referring, as you probably already guessed, to Canada’s veterinarians.
It makes sense when you think of it. We recently had to have one of our cats euthanized. The vet had a nice room with armchair and couches, soft music if we wanted, and a chance to say goodbye in private before the lethal injection. What more could you ask?
The system is already there. The vet knows how to calculate the dosage for any animal, from a cat to a horse. Killing a human would be easy.
Those who say putting such a responsibility onto veterinarians is preposterous are short sighted. Vets have all the latest equipment and their business is already booming. They can easily accommodate the extra patients.
On the other hand, hospital administrators are always bemoaning the lack of funding for new equipment and procedures. Where would the money be found for a euthanasia program? I say, leave it to the men and women who are already experienced in the field.
It used to be that humans were considered to be more than animals, to be created in God’s image. Taking a human life was somehow sinful. Apparently that view is no longer the norm. Euthanasia, once unthinkable, is about to become the law of the land. Only the implementation appears to be in doubt.
It seems to me though that we have decided that humans are no different from animals. It makes sense that we allow veterinarians to put their skills to work.