This post was original published on 15 January 2011
Today I’m going to get right up close and personal, and say some things that I’ve wanted to say for several years. After I had come back from Switzerland, where my wife Elizabeth was helped to die, and her ashes had been buried amidst a wonderful celebration of her life, the news media and the so-called “pro-life” movement got wind of what she had done. At the behest of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (an arm of the Roman Catholic death culture), I was investigated by the RCMP Major Crimes Unsit, and then the most rabid of the “pro-life” commentators got to work to dissect what they thought it all meant. And of course, they saw devils everywhere.
One of these commentators was Wesley J. Smith, described by Wikepedia as a “Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Bioethics at the Discovery Institute”. His report, still available on his blog “Second-hand Smoke”, as I discovered recently (the blog in the meantime having been moved to the conservative Catholic journal First Things), was published two days after we had buried Elizabeth’s ashes, and had remembered her big heart, her courage and her joy in life, dismisses Elizabeth as a “Suicide Tourist.” In truth, she was an exile, not a tourist, exiled to die in a foreign land, because of religious fanatics just like Smith, whose stock in trade is fear-mongering and lies.
We’ll come to the lies in a moment, but it is worthwhile mentioning that, had Elizabeth known, from the start, that, at the end, when life had become unbearable to her, she would have been able to receive assistance in dying, she might have lived much longer. She would not have had to worry about how it would end, whether she would have the courage to take her own life, furtively, all alone, whether it would work, whether she would involve anyone else in an act which she had had in mind from very early on in the course of her illness. She had known others with very severe primary progressive MS, so she knew, almost from the start, what was in store for her. Who knows how much the stress of knowing that she would eventually be completely paralysed and unable to speak, and knowing that she was not entirely free to choose, contributed to the severity of her MS? And then, of course, being forced to flee, as she saw it, into exile in order to die, she had to leave when she was still able to travel, and so she died before she would have done had she been free to die in her own home, in her own country.
The Roman Catholic death cult simply doesn’t understand. Here’s an example. Margaret Somerville is a bioethicist (at least she pretends to be) at McGill University in Montreal, and a stern opponent of assisted dying. A phone-in CBC radio programme shortly after Elizabeth died took as a topic whether the refusal to allow assisted dying forced people to die earlier than they would if assisted dying were legalised. The conversation wandered aimlessly for awhile until someone phoned in and said, “Aren’t you missing the point? Mrs. MacDonald died earlier than she would have, if she had been able to do here what she could do legally in Switzerland.” Margaret Somerville’s response was immediate and uncomprehending. “Well,” she said, “if she wanted to die, I don’t know why she would wait!” This is the problem when we allow people to make choices for others, especially religious fanatics like Somerville. They simply do not understand. Why should someone whose understanding of what people seeking assisted dying really want is limited to a few catch phrases and predigested dogmas, get to make decisions for such people?