Behind Euthanasia: Existential Distress
This article was published by Living With Dignity - Québec on May 31, 2017.
The results of the study demonstrate that the main factor behind euthanasia deaths relates to existential distress. Indeed, the primary reason given by patients concerned the loss of autonomy – and not the unbearable pain that was conveniently sold to us from the beginning. Other reasons included fear of becoming a burden to those around them, fear of losing one's dignity, or the fact of no longer appreciating one's life.
In other words, the Canadian picture continues a portrait well known in other parts of the world, in which the same motives are evoked to request assisted suicide. This pattern also confirms what we already knew: euthanasia is primarily a question of how we relate to others and how society views vulnerable people. Moreover, when loss of autonomy is evoked as an indignity that deserves death, we should first see it as a petty social judgment that affects all persons who suffer from a disability or a serious illness. Furthermore, we have the duty to fight this pernicious and intolerable verdict.
Besides, Dr. Yves Robert, secretary of the Collège des médecins, recently published a letter in which he expressed his concern at the emergence of "speech demanding a form of death à la carte." Among other things, he rebelled against opinion leaders and media chroniclers who denounce euthanasia refusals as a form of exclusion, by asking a crucial question about the logical sequence of events: "Why and to what extent should new criteria be introduced when, no matter the criteria for access to PAD, there will always be some excluded by definition?”
Indeed, this is the logic inherent in all laws on euthanasia as they sell induced death as a blessing and as an adequate response to suffering. In the face of this real ideological scourge, we must continue to promote a benevolent and inclusive vision that values those who are made vulnerable by sickness, old age, or disability by giving them the means to live with dignity and to be accompanied and comforted until their last breath.