I’d have an easier time understanding the concept of assisted suicide within Canada if the proposed law strictly stuck with the terminally ill. But, the proposed law doesn’t; in fact many say it doesn’t reach far enough. People are advocating that assisted suicide be available to those with mental illnesses. “Unbearable suffering”, whatever that may imply.
What this law does is create two tiers. One for the normals, one for the abnormals. The normals get all the care, they get doctors and specialists, all sorts of options. The abnormals, we get an additional choice – the choice of ending our lives due to “suffering”. This “choice”, all the while Bell Canada does a yearly hashtag campaign to generate millions for mental health – where everyone on social media encourages people to keep fighting, surviving. But our courts, lawmakers, and many politicians have declared that “no”, you don’t need to fight. It doesn’t matter if your loved ones will miss you or the impact it has on everyone around you – go ahead and give up.
Then, of course there are the people like me. Yes I have a mental illness, but there is something else which ties me to this discussion. A disability, where the very celestial object which grants our planet life threatens to injure me. I’m photosensitive, allergic to ultraviolet light. My body treats the rays of the sun as a poisonous effect, my immune system treats ultraviolet light as a hostile source, resulting in anaphylactic responses.
As I write this comment from my basement, with the blinds closed on the two small windows, this is my world. A world of literal darkness. Combine that with severe generalized anxiety, I would qualify for assisted suicide. I am one such person these laws are being framed for. Considering that I already feel sub-human, how am I to feel now? That to some their form of “help” is to end my life? And yes, it does make me feel subhuman. Because the law proposed dictates that *I* have this option, whereas it’s so much the better that the normals get the resources required to aid them – and when they commit suicide via a first-party action it’s a tragedy.
At this point we’re past the point of “end the lives of those who suffer with terminal illnesses”. We’re past the “grievous and traumatic injuries. As much as what people would like to stay on that talking point, we’re well past it. The language is clear, there will be no “slippery slope” in Canada. There would be no need to shout out “slippery slope fallacy” against those opposed to the law, because it’s going to be baked into the law that persons like myself can avail of this option if I wanted.
It begs to question, of course – why not just do it myself? There’s already means for people to “end their suffering” without the aid of a third party, or a law mandating a third party does so. That’s the very reason why therapists, counselors, doctors, and suicide outlines exist – to prevent people from availing themselves of that option. Why is it that if I did it to myself people would mourn, but if another did it for me it’s compassionate? There’s a disconnect there, not to mention a subtle encouragement that “it’s okay to do it yourself” – perhaps that’s why the term is now “physician assisted death” as opposed to “assisted suicide”. We wouldn’t want to give the wrong idea, despite the spirit *and* letter of the law making things very clear.
What is happening is a “normnalization of disposalization”, where we see that our culture become a disposable one. The environment, the unborn, and now the vulnerable and those of us with disabilities. Tell me how I am to react when a law gets created which says those with my mind and body can just “end my suffering” – it’s counter-intuitive to what my psychiatrist is trying to do, and gives doctors little motivation to find out why the sun is trying to kill me.
Which I suppose is one of the key points, the transfer of culpability. When one commits suicide, it’s on them, in a sense. And a lot of people know this, which is why the base desire and function of a body is designed for self-survival. Both body, and mind. So to take that away, you introduce a third party, the weight is now on someone else’s shoulders.
At this point in the discussion, when mentioning that everyone already has the option to end one’s life at any point in time already, it always comes back to the extreme cases like Stage 4 cancer or ALS – diseases that no one in their right mind would wish to inflict on anyone. It’s always an appeal to the *extreme* physical limitation. Or it’s a diminishment of the other – where people say “your problems aren’t as bad as you say they are” or “you’d never qualify”.
Yet the law(s) never stay there, do they? We see that now in Belgium, in Oregon. In any country or state which enacts these laws, it never ends there. Inevitably, it includes people such as myself. And in our country, we will be included immediately, no need for us to wait for this “privilege”. So while the *extreme* minority gets to have someone else accept the responsibility of ending their own life, the majority of us with disabilities are left with the ramifications of being included in this law; and with the double-standards I mentioned above.
I wish I could say I make the most of my life, such as it is. I’m taking small steps to improve this. It’s with the help of family, and doctors. Doctors that want my quality of life to improve, not end. My world may be darkness, but there’s times like this. Times I think about this law, think about what it means to people such as myself. The ramifications. And the response. With ultraviolet, I hide. With severe anxiety, I find I’m often hiding.
But with this, I will fight. I will fight with the fury of a thousand suns, with the might of planets and meteors. I will use both the written and spoken word, mostly the written because there is skill to be found there. Because those of us with disabilities, both mental and physical, are worthy. We are worthy of being invested in, we are worthy of programs and support systems being put into place. We are worthy of living, and we are worthy of being cared for.
Because we are whole. All of us.