Support growing for physician-assisted death

Support for the right to choose how a person wants to die is gaining momentum in Victoria.

On the heels of one of Canada’s first physician-assisted deaths, support for the right to choose how a person wants to die is gaining momentum in Victoria.

Dying with Dignity Canada, a national organization committed to improving quality of dying and expanding end-of-life choices, recently launched its first Victoria chapter.

“I’m very interested in having choice at the end of life,” said Victoria resident and chapter co-chair Ellen Agger. “If I’m hit by a car, I don’t have a choice. But if I get some kind of illness that has an outcome of death, then I would like to be able to choose the manner and time that I die.”

Agger first started thinking about end-of-life options when she was in her 30s. She would have discussions with her mother about the types of treatment they would prefer.

But the discussion turned into reality when her mother was diagnosed with a fast-progressing dementia.

She lost the ability to feed, bathe, clean and care for herself. Whenever she spoke, Agger could not understand her. Her mother passed away a year and five months after diagnosis.

Seven years ago, her father was diagnosed with lung cancer and suffocated to death.

“I want to control how I die. I want to die peacefully. I want it to be a gentle death, I don’t want to suffer,” Agger said.

Support has been growing for physician-assisted dying in Victoria.

The group has more than 320 supporters in Greater Victoria and 850 on the Vancouver and Gulf islands.

According to Agger, there’s been a shift in how people think about death and more people are comfortable with talking about the idea of dying.

Under Canada’s current laws, it is a crime to assist another person in ending their life.

However, two recent Supreme Court decisions allow exemptions if certain criteria are met.

Last month, a special joint committee on physician-assisted dying released a 70-page report with 21 recommendations on new federal legislation to enable physician-assisted dying.

Recommendations include medical assistance in dying be made available to individuals with terminal and non-terminal medical conditions that cause intolerable suffering; that the federal government work with provinces and territories to ensure all publicly funded health care institutions provide medical assistance in dying; and medical-assisted dying can be carried out if two physicians are present.

Victoria MP Murray Rankin was the vice-chair of the committee which heard from 61 groups and more than 100 written submissions about physician-assisted deaths.

Rankin said he’s hopeful new federal legislation will be passed in June based on the recommendations put forward.

“I’m satisfied with our job of protecting the vulnerable. We took that very, very seriously,” Rankin said.

“I’m hopeful, having heard from witnesses and trying to make the judgements we were asked to make, that the government will see this as a positive report . . . and the bill will be drafted along similar lines.”

In an emailed statement a spokesperson with the Vancouver Island Health Authority said “The direction the federal government takes in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling will determine how we proceed in B.C. I expect there will be strong direction provided by the provincial government and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which Island Health would follow.”

The issue has sparked debate between people for and against physician-assisted dying, after a Calgary woman was granted the right to physician-assisted death last week.

She travelled to Vancouver to end her life with the help of two physicians last week.

 

 

Just Posted

Five Halloween activities for adults to celebrate the spooky season

Halloween isn’t just for little ghouls in Greater Victoria

Central Saanich changes incentives for housing developments

Changes shift incentives for some developments from development cost charges to building permit fees

VIDEO: Saanich resident shocked when trespasser licks security camera, rummages through mail

‘I found the situation really bizarre,’ said the Gordon Head resident

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

VIDEO: Explosion, fire sends woman running from Saanich home

Heavy smoke in the area, crews on scene

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Most Read