Our True North strong and free is making progress

Cupcake cake with icing in shape of Canadian flag

Oh Canada!

Did you know we recently changed the lyrics to our national anthem to make the song more gender neutral? Way to go, parliament!

Then the Canadian Red Cross shortened the blood-donation prohibition period for men who have sex with men from 5 years celibacy to 1 year, which is on par with the U.S. Zero years would be even better but it’s a step in the right direction.

As if that weren’t enough, Canada’s assisted dying legislation passed last week. Soon dying people the world over will be flocking to Canada for their lethal injections. Think of the potential financial boon from medical tourists.

This type of legislation cannot be easy to write. How can one ruling address everyone’s needs? By “everyone”, I am referring to people with chronic, debilitating medical conditions (e.g., severe chronic pain), those with chronic, progressive, terminal ailments (e.g., ALS), those with untreatable or too-far-gone-to-be-treated cancers, even those with psychiatric conditions whose quality of life is grossly impaired. No wonder there was considerable dissent over this bill.

In (not just) my opinion, the legislation as written fell short. As it stands, the ruling applies only to people whose death is reasonably foreseeable and who are able to give consent, thereby excluding all people who are suffering from irremediable debilitating conditions, e.g., intense chronic pain or serious mental illness. The government felt the legislation as written would protect the vulnerable, but in the process many people who may want access to medically supervised death will not have it despite the new law.

I don’t want to get stuck in this quagmire of a ruling if my quality of life tanks. Since I don’t expect changes to the legislation overnight, I’ve decided on a different approach to dying: I will drop dead. That’s right, I’ll have a heart attack or a stroke. My proneness to clotting may give me an advantage here. Or maybe one day I just won’t wake up, even when my four-legged furry alarm goes off.

But, perfectionist that I am, I’ll do my best to complete the job I started; I won’t incur brain damage that leaves me stuck in hospital indefinitely. If that happens, the current legislation will be of no help because my death may not be imminent. Even if I’m expected to die in the near future, the legislation won’t apply because I won’t have the mental capacity to provide consent.

I refuse to waste away in limbo land. And so, my dear friends, if I somehow fail to drop dead despite my best intentions, and no doctor is willing to do the deed, could one of you step up to the plate and finish me off? If I am unresponsive and hooked up to machines with no chance of improvement, I beseech you to place a pillow over my head and hold it there. I will not put up a fight. I may not be able to articulate it, yet I will be grateful because this is what I will have wanted. But I encourage you to do it under cover of darkness, lest you be charged with my murder.

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