Column stirs a call to action for dialogue on assisted dying

I do not believe one person’s personal belief should trump another person’s right to choose how to exit from an incurable disease

I found the MLA Report of Lana Popham, “It’s time for dialogue on assisted dying,” on April 27 to be an outstanding call for an adult, caring and informed discussion on assisted dying.

I did not know that approximately 10 per cent of Saanich residents are over 75 as compared to a provincial and Canadian average of six per cent. Nor that “in the next decade more than 45 per cent of the population of Saanich will be age 60 or older.”

I did know that a federal all-party parliamentary committee had made a series of recommendations on physician assisted dying.

And I did know, however, that the federal government had rejected the committee recommendation for “advance consent” so that someone like myself – now in my 80th year – could advise while still of sound mind that if I develop dementia such as Alzheimer’s I would wish a physician assisted death.

The sad reality is that over 30 per cent of people over 80 develop dementia, and I and many readers know of tragic cases of, for example, Alzheimer’s where the victim is no longer the gentle , intelligent, loving parent but rather a scared, helpless and in some cases, violent person that the illness has created.

I understand that some people, for personal philosophical or religious beliefs, would never wish to provide “advance consent” for themselves and that is their free choice and personal decision. But I do not believe one person’s personal belief should trump another person’s right to choose how to exit from an incurable and increasingly devastating mental disease such as dementia.

I support Lana Popham’s call for a comprehensive public conversation about end-of-life options including greatly enhanced palliative care resources, and compassionate care support for families caring for a loved one at home. If our provincial government continues to fail in providing leadership on informed discussion and action on this crucial issue that affects every family and citizen in B.C. then local community forums such as what Lana Popham proposes should be held province-wide.

Ron Faris



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