Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) in
Canada: the Carter v. Canada lawsuit
Part 13 of fourteen parts
Public opinion poll on PAS. Responses.
A court allows a terminally ill Ontario
man to obtain assistance in dying.
2016-MAR-01: Global TV shows results of a public opinion poll about PAS:
Global TV conducted a public opinion poll on their web site. They asked the question:
"What do you think of the decision to allow a Calgary woman access to physician-assisted death?" Three options were given.
- 88%: "This is the right decision to support Albertans with terminal illnesses."
- 9%: "I don’t believe in [permitting] physician-assisted death."
- 2%: other responses.
- 0.8%: "The decision should have been delayed until federal legislation [becomes effective]." 1
Alberta is a relatively conservative province. A national poll might show even more support for PAS.
The Global poll is probably less accurate than a poll conducted by a polling agency which samples the opinion of a carefully selected random selection of adults. The people who took this poll probably differ from such a random selection.
2016-MAR: Comments by members of the public to the Global TV poll:
Seven visitors to the Global-TV web site's discussion of the Alberta court's ruling took the initiative to leave their personal comments about PAS. In chronological order, they were:
- Heather posted: "As a cancer patient of over 10 years with Ovarian cancer and all treatments exhausted, I know I will eventually succumb to the disease. I believe it should be my choice on how I decide die. I am not religious and would hate for someone's religious views to alter the way that I am able to die. The law is there. All the regulations are just not set down in stone. Why should a person who is dying have to suffer until we have all the regulations written down?"
- Carol posted: "I certainly support physician-assissted death in regards to Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS affects your body but does not affect your brain functions. People ravaged by this horrific disease know and see their body failing to the point where they no longer want to live. I am speaking from experience as my father suffered and died due to this disease. He wished and prayed every day for months for him to be released from this world. He didn't want to be here anymore but had to live with this horrific deterioration until his body could no longer survive."
- Dianne posted: "I most defiantly support it. i also watched my mom slowly succumb to ALS. Luckily she contracted pneumonia which killed her. She always said if she choked or something happened 'don't bring me back to this life, let me go.' I was lucky as she moved in with us for the last four months and I was able to take care of her and I have some very precious memories of our wheelchair walks, laughs and just being at peace. She died at my house with the family at her side! I miss you mom!
My parents were divorced. My Dad laid in a coma for 3 days dying of cancer. Why would anyone not let him go there was no return? As for waiting for government, what a joke! they have managed to make a mountain out of a mole hole. They will drag this out for 10 years!"
- Tom posted: "To anyone who voted against doctor assisted suicide, you can go to hell. Imagine being diagnosed with ALS and having to go through what this woman had to go through. I'm sure your opinion would change."
- Carmen posted: "Society is kinder to their pets than to humans. Long ago, law recognized ending pain and not prolonging an inevitable end is love. While animals cannot verbalized as humans their wishes but some do tell us their own way. That decision too is made with medical consultation. Life needs to be respected in all it's forms as does the best possible -- sometimes most difficult -- decision: death. Bravo for Alberta and the doctors."
- Shane posted: "So who are we to be playing God. I believe God gave us life and He's the ONLY one who can take it. We are heading down a slippery slope."
- Andrew posted: "I think that in cases like this and many other cases there should be a way to end your life to spare you the pain and/or humiliation of a deadly disease. I know I would not want to live if I was in constant pain and/or could not take care of myself (such as advanced dementia). Shane's comment about God really bothers me. There are a lot of people Shane who don't believe in a supreme being we have to bow down to. If you want to go ahead and live in pain or have someone have to feed you/clothe you/bathe you/clean up your bowel movements etc. then go ahead. Don't force your religious beliefs on others.
- Bruce (who happens to be the webmaster of this web site) posted: I am an Agnostic, male, 79 years-of-age. I see no evidence of a soul and thus do not expect that an afterlife or reincarnation exists. I do not fear death, because I see it as a total end to my existence. What I do fear is becoming so disabled that my quality of life goes to zero, then becomes negative, and is expected to stay negative until I die. If I am in that condition then I may not be able to arrange my own suicide. That is terrifying, particularly if pain is involved. I find access to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) with provision of an advanced directive to be very important to me. I can feel in peace. 1
2016-MAR-01: "Ms. S" of Calgary, Alberta has died:
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) revealed that "Ms." S, who was given permission to receive help in dying, had gone to British Columbia where "Dr. W" helped her die. The doctor is a clinical professor at the University of British Columbia. He said:
"My colleague and I were grateful and honoured to be able to help her."
She is believed to be the first person outside of Quebec to be given permission by a provincial court to seek medical aid in dying (MAID). 2
2016-MAR-03 to 17: A terminally ill man in Toronto applied to the court for PAS:
An 80-year-old man, known only as "A.B.," is suffering from advanced-stage aggressive lymphoma. He was diagnosed in 2012. A.B. has applied to a Superior Court for permission to have a physician assist him in ending his life. His lawyer, Andrew Faith, said:
"An application of this kind requires that we carefully safeguard our client’s privacy. As such, we cannot comment on the proceedings at this time."
On MAR-03, the plaintiff, A.B., asked Justice Thomas McEwen for permission to proceed with his application anonymously. He says in his affidavit:
"As a result of this irremediable condition, I am suffering intolerable pain and distress that cannot be alleviated." 3
Neither the federal nor the provincial government opposed his request.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Erika Tucker, "Calgary woman with ALS first in Alberta to be granted physician-assisted death," Global News, 2016-MAR-01, at: http://globalnews.ca/
- "Calgary woman dies after being granted right to physician-assisted suicide," CBC News, 2016-\MAR-01, at: http://www.cbc.ca/
- Jacques Gallant, "Terminally ill Toronto man seeks physician-assisted death," The Toronto Star, 2016-MAR-03, at: http://www.thestar.com/
Copyright © 2016, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-MAR-04
Latest update: 2016-MAR-04
Author: B.A. Robinson