Sunday, October 19, 2014

The toughest call

   While I sometimes struggle with the fundamental contradiction between keeping Paul Bernardo and Russell Williams alive on humanitarian grounds and shooting up Grandma with a lethal dose of morphine because we're pretty sure that's what she'd want, I don't have a default position on euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide.  The issue is far too complex and important to be either unequivocally endorsed or summarily dismissed.  
   The re-emerging national debate over the right to die with dignity and/or by choice is being framed along familiar lines, between old school moralists and new school progressives.  It's logical to believe that there's merit in using modern medicine to bring a peaceful end to needless suffering.  We routinely extend that compassion to sick and dying animals, including household pets whom we love and treasure as we would any family member.  At the same time, the notion of the sanctity of human life as a divine gift still holds strong sway, and just because faith-based ideals are being increasingly pushed to the fringe of the modern moral landscape shouldn't mean they're no longer up for discussion - at least not in an open, diverse and tolerant society.  
   Somewhere between the archaic notion that undignified suffering is God's will and the supposedly enlightened concept that our lives are our own to be dispensed with at our whim there is common sense.  Unfortunately, common sense and the law don't always intersect, which is what makes this particular issue so difficult, and why it's so important to get it exactly right.  
   It's literally a matter of life and death.

1 comment:

  1. It is an extremely difficult issue and very personal. I have gone through it and think that each case should be unique, hard to paint the issue with the same brush applied to all. Easiest is to write some form of legal document stating your wishes..suffering in a vegetative state with no chance of recovery, putting a burden on family and thanks...God's will?..don't get me started.