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Within a few years, Canada went from being a country that had banned assisted suicide to being one of the loosest regimes in the world - David Brooks
Far be it from me to be flippant or insensitive about a subject as serious as one’s choice of death over a continuation of a life choked in the grip of pain and hopelessness. Nevertheless, this blog supports the notion that laughter is the best medicine. It is in this spirit that we launch into a light-hearted examination of medically assisted death.
Nobody ever lost any sleep deciding when would be the right time to get born. Basically, it happens when it happens, whether you are ready for it or not. There are no decisions you have to make, no financial arrangements to clean up, and no legalities to consider. You just slide down that narrow birth canal and make your entrance, often kicking and screaming, into the world.
Not so with dying. We probably would all like to exit this world painlessly in our sleep, or perhaps quickly and suddenly while engaged in an activity we love such as fly fishing on the Skeena River or singing the aria from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly at the Vienna Opera House. However, death is usually not so accommodating.
Until fairly recently, our departing from the realm of the living has been mostly determined by the hands of fate. Whether it occurs by accident, disease, or the body just plain packing it in, we have never had much choice in the matter. The one exception to this rule through the years has been the act of suicide wherein the victim/perpetrator has had the final say as far as the timing goes. Otherwise, it has always been that you go when your time is up.
Times have changed, however, and now there’s a new kid on the block when it comes to determining one’s end of life. Medical Assistance in Dying or MAID, is an option either already available or soon to be accessible to anyone of sound mind who feels it would be better to end it than to continue on suffering with no hope of recovery. In Canada, for instance, as of March 17, 2021, it has been legal for people to seek a MAID end provided they:
be 18 years of age or older and have decision-making capacity
be eligible for publicly funded health care services
make a voluntary request that is not the result of external pressure
give informed consent to receive MAID, meaning that the person has consented to receiving MAID after they have received all information needed to make this decision
have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability
be in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability
have enduring and intolerable physical or psychological suffering that cannot be alleviated under conditions the person considers acceptable
Mental illness, was originally excluded from the list of serious diseases and disabilities and put on hold, but it seems now that a person suffering solely from mental illness but meets all the other criteria for eligibility will be able to apply for MAID on March 17, 2024.
Is there anything wrong with choosing MAID? Possibly, yes. The problem with death is that it’s so final. You don’t even get a chance to read the contract (let alone the fine print), before it’s snatched from your hands and you’re pushed through the door into the unknown. It seems to me, that before you choose to make the decision to end your life via MAID, you should get a few perks thrown your way. An escape clause has got to be essential. If you change your mind before, during, or hypothetically after the procedure, there should be a tried and true protocol for a total reversal. A free 30 day trial period sounds reasonable.
Definitely, stay clear of the “all sales final” clause in the contract. How about a money back guarantee if you’re not completely satisfied? If, for some reason, you find that death is not all it was cracked up to be, and as it turns out, your living circumstances before you willingly departed were not all that horrible comparatively, then you get to come back, no questions asked. Hey, it worked for Lazarus of Bethany. The “buy one, get one free” package deal can save you a bundle if you know someone who is in the same predicament. “50% off” and “PRICES SLASHED!!!” are other ways you can economize what will probably be your last financial transaction. Avoid the “Going out of Business” and “Fire Sale” hooks as you don’t really know where in hell these are going to take you.
If you do decide to go ahead with a MAID exit, you will probably have to consider who you would like to have in attendance when it is time for your spirit to slip off into the ether. Do you prefer a small, private function with only close family members at your side? Or would you rather go all out party/bash with hall rental, haute cuisine catering, fancy invitations, RSVP’s, and a Bar Mitzvah band to play all your favorite tunes as you trip the light fantastic. Invitations, however, can make for a tricky, double edged sword. A passage out from the realm of life via MAID is no time to be making enemies by offending friends, relatives, and acquaintances who did not get invited although they believe they should have been put at the very top of the guest list. The last thing you want to see (and it probably would be the last thing) is a couple of your ex- spouses getting all huffed up because they were not given seats closer to the injection site.
Another matter to consider when making plans for MAID is the possibility of upgrading from the basic “inject and die” plan. There are a variety of deluxe options and fringe benefits available if you take the time to do proper research on the subject. For example, having the boys from the NYPD choir over for several rousing rounds of “A Jolly Good Fellow” is guaranteed to lively up the proceedings. A ceremony honoring the sanctity of the event could be authorized under the auspices of the newly established religious entity, The Church of the Last Appointment.
There are detractors to the whole concept of MAID, of course. Some claim that allowing people the choice to medically end their lives is simply a government ploy to save billions of dollars that the health care system would have to spend in order to keep the terminally ill alive for a few more years. Others consider that, in some twisted form of mercy, it pushes the concepts of hospice and palliative care to a point far beyond where they were ever intended to go. From the point of view of the attending physician, it seems to stretch and possibly run counter to the ethical essence of the Hippocratic Oath which requires a doctor to do no harm to a patient.
Nobody asked me, but as noted beforehand, no one has ever had much of a say in determining when they were going to be born. However, medical assistance in birth (MAIB) has been around since forever except we have called MAIB practitioners names such as midwives and obstetricians. Now, with the recent introduction of Medical Assistance in Dying as an alternative to having to remain alive in order to endure more pain and suffering, we find that the aid available to both the coming and going into and out of life has become a more even playing field. Ultimately, it becomes a matter of choice, and isn’t that something we’re all dying to have?
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