Posts Tagged ‘Death and dying’

Rx: assisted suicide for sick, elderly poor?

January 27, 2023

What used to be called “mercy killing” has become acceptable.  Some U.S. states allow physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs under certain circumstances.  Some nations allow physicians to administer these drugs.

Overall I think this is a good thing, but recently stories have been coming out of Canada that indicate that its MAiD (medical aid in dying) program is used as a substitute for providing welfare assistance for the poverty-stricken elderly poor.  There are only a handful of these cases on record, and the facts aren’t clearcut, but they are important as possible precedents.

Most of the world’s rich countries have a big problem of paying for medical care for their increasing elderly populations.  It is easy to imagine assisted suicide programs as solutions to that problem.

Canada’s MAiD program is one of the world’s most extensive such programs.  In 2021, it was used by 10,058 Canadians – about 3 percent of Canada’s recorded deaths that year.

When it started in 2016, the MAiD program required that applicants’ deaths be “reasonably foreseeable.”  Now it is available to anyone who has a “serious and incurable illness, disease or disability” that is irreversible with “enduring and intolerable” suffering.  Next year Canada is expected to allow MAiD for mental health reasons.  It is considering allowing euthanasia for “mature” minors – children under 18 who meet the same requirements as adults.

The safeguards are that applications have to be approved by two physicians, the process takes 90 days and, in theory, applications are not to be approved if they are for reasons of inadequate financial and social support.

But Conor Gallagher and Alexander Raikin, in articles linked below, give examples of how lack of financial and social support tipped the balance for people who were able to cope with their medical problems.

For example, a man in Medicine Hat named Les Landry had his disability benefits cut off when he reached age 65 and started receiving an old age pension, for some obscure reason.  The latter isn’t enough to cover his needs, so he is going to apply for MAiD.  “I really don’t want to die,” he said.  “I just can’t afford to live.”

He has medical problems that qualify him for MAiD.  But that’s not the reason he’s using it.

Canada offers a suicide hot line, where counselors try to offer hope to people who are thinking of committing suicide.  It also offers a hot line for people who are seeking medical assistance in dying.

One man was hospitalized because he had suicidal tendencies.  When in the hospital, he was euthanized under the MAiD program.

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A last laugh from beyond the grave

October 19, 2019

Hat tip to Rod Dreher.

Shay Bradley was an Irishman who loved jokes and pranks.  He died Oct. 8, but arranged for one last prank at his burial.

The dying are incapable of BS

September 15, 2013

Hospice worker Kathleen Taylor talks about people who really do live each day as if it might be their last, and wonders what it would be like for everyone to live at that level of self-awareness and honesty.

Click on Regrets of the Dying for more on this topic.

Hat tips to Beyond Meds and A Way in the Woods.

The finitude of life

January 7, 2013

Alan Watts in this video calls for acceptance of the fact that life has a beginning and will have an end.  Eternal life is not appealing, he said.  That is true if the afterlife is no more than a continuation of this life.  I agree with the Christian writer C.S. Lewis that all that is necessary for there to be a Hell is eternal life and human nature as it is.   Life is a blessing, so, at least, it has been for me, and a blessing is no less a blessing if it has to come to an end.

Top 5 regrets of the dying

July 10, 2011

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

I wish I didn’t work so hard.

I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

I wish I had let myself be happier.

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