Dr. Donald Low, the physician we came to trust during the SARS crisis, made an impassioned plea for a death with dignity in a video that is gaining much attention. His wife, Maureen Taylor, “said though her husband did not die in pain, his final days were a struggle as he lost control of bodily functions and struggled to breathe.” It was the death that he had predicted, not the death he had wanted.
When I began writing Autumn’s Grace it did not occur to me that I would become engaged in a public conversation about end-of-life care. I have neither the legal, nor the ethical expertise to engage as fully as I would like. But it appears that Autumn’s Grace, has started processes with readers of reflecting upon the deaths they have encountered and discussing their own wishes. That is a good thing.
Quebec’s Bill 52- An Act Respecting End-of-Life-Care has gathered and polarized public debate. The Bill begins to provide the legislative framework for a death with dignity. However, it raises flags for those of us who have been concerned about the issue. A colleague and friend of mine in Montreal, Lorine Besel, has through letters to the Montreal Gazette been suggesting ways of improving the legislation. Death with dignity is a complex issue. While I am not an expert, I will try over the next week or so to gather my thoughts, along with Ms. Besel’s and post them here. I do think it is important that we engage in a national conversation on how we can manage end of life care in a manner that is ethical, legal and responsible.