Supreme Court guidelines on doctor-assisted dying sparks increased debate
Published Monday, March 7, 2016 8:25PM AST
The line in the sand seems to be getting deeper as doctor-assisted death gets closer to reality. Just a few days after Nova Scotia's Supreme Court issued guidelines on the matter, the two sides in the debate seem to be digging in their heels.
Sheila Sperry’s late husband, Drew, was a well-known Halifax architect who bravely fought ALS for eight years before passing away in March 2012. As his body failed, those final months were marked by bedsores and panic attacks.
“He would waken in the middle of the night and he would realize, 'Oh my god, I can't move,' and then he'd yell for me and I'd leap out of bed and run around, help him sit up, turn him around,” said Sperry.
A few blocks away, Janet Rowe deals with the reality of caring for a husband with Alzheimer's disease. She and her husband drafted so-called "living wills" years ago, partly because of their friendship with the Sperry’s.
“We were friends from long ago, and we knew Drew and what he went through," said Rowe.
But the concept of assisted dying has its critics, including reverend Anthony Mancini, Archbishop of Halifax-Yarmouth.
“‘Thou shalt not kill’" cannot be more evidently put,” said Mancini.
Mancini says doctor-assisted death is one of the most difficult moral issues of our time, but Canadians need to rethink so-called 'mercy-killing.'
“Of course when you put in the word 'mercy,' it sounds like you're doing a good thing,” said Mancini. “Well, maybe it's not a good thing.”
But Sperry remains convinced it is a good thing – so much so, her husband's death has given her new purpose as a member of the group Dying with Dignity.
She says when her time comes to leave this world and the house she loves, her wishes are pretty clear, too.
“Unless I am a productive, living, being, I don't want to be just lying around taking up space.”
Ottawa is expected to come up with regulations later this year.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.