I’m still not clear why Robert Latimer got front page space in our daily to comment on the the Supreme Court’s ruling to wipe out the ban on assisted suicide. If I understand it, the intent of the ruling (the intent, mind you) is that a narrowly construed group of fully competent, clear-minded, consenting people who choose to end their lives can do so. That’s not what happened in Tracy Latimer’s case. She didn’t ask for help to end her life. It was her father’s decision. As long as we have a society that believes people with disabilities are better off dead, for whatever reason, the lines will continue to blurr between assisted suicide and murder. As long as we have media that report about people “who suffer from Down syndrome” or “who are afflicted with autism,” the public will view people with disabilities as having lives too difficult and assume that death would be a welcome relief. As long as Canadians say, “I would never want to live like that” when they see someone with a disability, it’s easier to assume the person with a disability doesn’t want to live like that either. Further scary bits: parents and caregivers of someone with a challenging, life-long disability who become frustrated, exhausted, angry, depressed, or suicidal themselves. Where is the “oversight” who protects the vulnerable person in those situations?
Andrew Coyne in the National Post offered a very thoughtful piece about the ruling: