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Sue Rodriguez lost her pioneering campaign for the right to die in a legal challenge that was defeated at the Supreme Court of Canada in 1993. (CP)
Sue Rodriguez lost her pioneering campaign for the right to die in a legal challenge that was defeated at the Supreme Court of Canada in 1993. (CP)

April 27: Talking point – the right to die; and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Death divides us long before it arrives. Some argue there’s no such thing as the right to die, others that death with dignity, with a doctor’s help if need be, should be our birthright. Readers, print and digital, tackle one of life’s two certainties

We are not consulted about being born, and we ought not to determine the timing of our death (Right-To-Die Debate Resurfaces – April 25). There are so many things about which we are not consulted: country of origin, race, parents, siblings, abilities, handicaps to name just a few.

Denise Baillargeon, Toronto

.........

The right to die with dignity, with the help of physicians if necessary, should be the birthright of every Canadian. When a person is terminally ill, with no cure in sight, endures unbearable pain and decides it is time to die, who are we to tell this person that he or she shouldn’t?

Parliament should pass right-to-die legislation with adequate safeguards built into it. Our right to use this option is personal and does not interfere with the freedoms of anyone else. It is the only rational, sensible and compassionate thing to do.

Arthur Retnakaran, Toronto

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Palliative-care beds are not readily available for everyone. It serves no purpose to have pain and suffering as the prerequisite for dying. Assisted suicide should be an option, with laws that prevent abuse. I support a Canadian discussion toward the right to die.

Marian Pettit, Guelph, Ont.

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Assisted-suicide laws appear to make sense. But scratch the surface, read about the subject and one will quickly conclude such laws are inherently dangerous. Certain populations are at great risk – the elderly, the disabled.

People end their life because they fear losing autonomy and independence. Social supports for the disabled are grossly inadequate and the assumption is that death is preferable to life with a severe disability.

William Peace, Katonah, N.Y.

.........

If my life should become unbearable, I want the right to end it with assistance if necessary. Sue Rodriguez put it eloquently when she asked “Whose body is this? Who owns my life?” Many of us have a secret plan, but fear that we will not have the strength to implement it. We need to eliminate the secrecy and speak openly about this need to maintain control over our own lives.

James Reynolds, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

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I am a reasonably healthy 80-year-old, physically and mentally fit, still operating a successful business. As I age, I occasionally think of the palliative subject – the humiliation of being dependent on someone else for basic needs such as nutrition, bathroom and hygiene. I think of pain, and the loss of thought.

Our leaders suffer from a malady called fear, fear or retribution from religious groups which believe that a supreme being has control of our destiny. Leaders fear that denying such control will cost them votes. The issue then becomes deciding what is more valuable: a vote, or the quality of life for an individual?

We must establish criteria for the right to self-determination without being influenced by religious beliefs. Our society is based on quality of life. I would hope that when my life no longer has any quality, the law will respect my right to self-determination and allow doctors to administer the relief of my misery.

Murray Katzman, Toronto

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God is the giver of life and only He can take it away. Palliative care in our country is doing a wonderful job of caring for people during their last days on Earth. We should never vote for assisted suicide in our beloved Canada.

Kathy Ng, West Vancouver

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Palliative care is not good enough. As an RN, I worked in long-term care for more than 32 years and witnessed unbearable pain and suffering on a daily basis.

The law definitely should be changed so that individuals who just cannot bear it any longer have the right to exit the planet when they wish to do so. We treat our pets much more compassionately than we do humans.

Susan Whishaw, Lethbridge

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