The following video and article appeared recently (20th October 2012) in the Toronto Star. Since I will be speaking of some of these things at the conference in Ottawa coming up at the end of the month, some readers may be interested in it, so I put up the video here, and link the remainder of the article. While most of the responses to the article was positive, one, in particular, in response to a related one, was not, and I will be asking the Toronto Star to take it down, since in my view it amounts to slander, if not libel.
I want to add, though, that contrary to this one commenter, Elizabeth’s decision was not an unreasonable one, and does not reflect on the value of any other person’s life, no matter what their disability or situation in life. Elizabeth lived much of her life with MS to the full, but, in the end, she realised that the quality of her life would be very bad indeed, and chose not to endure it. To question this judgement, and to suggest that this judgement reflects upon the value of anyone else’s life, is ridiculous and stupid, and, at this point, it just makes me angry. Get used to the idea, folks, that not all people think alike about their situation in life. One primary obstacle to the legalisation of assisted dying is the idea that people who choose to die because their lives are in their view no longer tolerable are saying that people similarly placed must see their lives as intolerable too.
The fact, however, that the person in question, says, without any knowledge whatever, that Elizabeth was depressed, is an indication of just how self-centred people are. They would not take the course that Elizabeth took, therefore she must have been depressed. She was not depressed, and she was genuinely full of life, but she knew that soon she would be able scarcely to move. She had seen other people with the same condition, unable to move so much as a finger, and she was not prepared to spend the last years of her life in spasm in a nursing home bed. I just get angry now with people who, not knowing Elizabeth, claim to know better than she what was or was not appropriate for her. It is an offensive bit of presumption.
I would like to record here my gratefulness to Daniel, who kindly wrote a letter of support after reading the article. Amongst his words are these:
Anyhow, after reading the article (and subsequently writing a short report about it for a communications class), I felt I’d like to e-mail you and tell you I’m happy there are people in this country fighting for what is right.
Thank you Dan. And, while I’m at it, I don’t mind if people are at least reasonably critical, but they must use reason, not prejudice, and they should refrain from making unfounded claims, and slanderous accusations.
On a June evening in 2007, Eric MacDonald sat in a Zurich restaurant locked in surreal anguish.
“Where’s your girlfriend?” the waiter inquired at one point, interrupting MacDonald’s daze.
The woman he was referring to had dined with MacDonald at the same table the previous evening.
It was his wife, Elizabeth.
“She’s not here,” Eric replied.
It was the only response he could muster.
Elizabeth was dead.
He’d watched her die only hours earlier in a controversial Swiss clinic where suicides are legally carried out under medical supervision.
“I was numb,” the retired Anglican priest, now 70, recalls one recent afternoon as he retells the story surrounded by photos of the woman he says gave meaning to his life over their 17 years of marriage — a meaning that his faith never could.
“I couldn’t really feel my body. Although I could walk and talk and sit down and do all the usual things, my body felt as though it were not really there.”