Health: Rotten law, rotten politicians, rotten eggs

Months ago, I wrote a bracelet could be worn by those opposed to medical assistance in dying (MAID). The bracelet would protect those individuals, and the law’s restrictive, now seemingly unconstitutional, conditions could be relaxed for those who want access to MAID.

I sent a letter and the column to every Member of Parliament (MP) and Senator in Canada urging a rewrite of the law. I’ve delayed writing another column on this topic so our elected and appointed leaders could respond. So what happened?

First, there was an avalanche of mail from readers in response to my initial column.

From JR – It’s a brilliant solution to a difficult problem. Congratulations for your efforts to ensure human rights for all.

SW says – Your article makes more sense than I have seen in years. Politicians take years of useless studies before making the wrong decision.

Another replied – I do not want others to feed me, change diapers, give me a cookie and then have someone to play the accordion.

From Calgary – My husband died in terrible pain in spite of morphine. Humans should be treated with the same common sense and compassion we treat loved animals. Please keep up the pressure on politicians to change our NOT COMPLETE LAW. It makes total sense to use the bracelet just as it’s used for alerting doctors of a person’s allergy or diabetes.

Several readers accused politicians, and some doctors, of tossing the Hippocratic Oath out the window when it comes to end-of-life-suffering. They wrote of being treated like children who could not make up their own minds about when and how to die.

From SB – It’s hard to believe how we keep going backward. I keep hoping that someday we will start moving forward. Thanks for your No Nonsense writing. How can anyone disagree with letting the bracelet decide?

One reader has this sage advice, “I tell people just because I don’t like peas, doesn’t mean they can’t eat them. Let each person decide vital issues for themselves.”

I expected several readers might find ways to disagree with the bracelet suggestion. But it did not happen. One reader, although in pain, said he was not ready to exchange the temporary for the eternal, but added his opinion might change in a few years.

Others replied that they did not want to end their lives by stepping in front of a truck, or other means of suicide. Rather, they wanted to leave on their own terms. For politicians to deny it is an egregious prohibition. Or, as another remarked, he hoped “the kids on the hill would get the message and smarten up.”

So how many of the 443 MPs and Senators replied? It’s was a single Senator, but no mention of trying to change the law. It’s a shameful response. Although the pen can be mightier than the sword, in this case the pen failed miserably. Old-fashioned common sense proved to be an uncommon commodity.

I’ve pondered what will it take to get politicians to do their job. When will they acknowledge that thousands of patients are needlessly dying in pain? When will the Advanced Directives of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, signed while still mentally competent, be respected? When will the extreme suffering, not imminent death, of cancer patients and others experiencing excruciating quality of life be a benchmark for compassionate care?

So I have a burning desire to toss rotten eggs at Parliament, as a signal of extreme disappointment and frustration. It’s not because I have disrespect for these buildings or the institution. Rather, I have an intense disrespect for MPs and Senators who allow this suffering to continue. In case I cannot resist it, I’ll gather rotten eggs. I’d like your opinion.

Dr. W. Gifford-Jones can be reached at info@docgiff.com

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