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Euthanasia: It’s Not Enough To Say No

[1]On June 15, 2012, the Canadian province of British Columbia Supreme Court struck down a law prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide.  It won’t be long before the other provinces follow suit.  My country is on the same slippery slope as Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Oregon and Washington.

Within minutes of the law being struck down, my Facebook was full of petitions, blog posts, commentaries and calls for protests.  All of these actions are good, but in my opinion, they are not enough.  It’s all well and good to stand up for life and the dignity of the human person, but what are you (personally) and we (collectively) doing to lessen the suffering of the terminally ill, the disabled, the chronically in pain, the lonely and the mentally ill?

If you were to spend a few days with me as I visit my patients or hold clinics, you would meet the people most likely to buy into the “dying with dignity” mentality.

I can see how people lose hope.  I can see how suffering wears a person down so much that they feel they can’t go on.  Death becomes attractive when a person despairs.

Some people argue that it is the responsibility of the healthcare system – doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, etc. – to care for the most vulnerable.  True.  But not true enough.  Even the most caring physician, nurse or support worker is not enough to comfort someone whose physical, mental and emotional suffering is too great to handle.

What more can we do, we who cry out against euthanasia and assisted suicide?  Here, from my perspective as a pro-life nurse and a person who cares, are some suggestions:

We are created to be compassionate and caring, a light shining in the darkness, fully human.  We are our brother’s keeper.  We are the Good Samaritan, Simon of Cyrene and Veronica.

We’ve prayed.  We’ve signed petitions, written politicians, “liked” Facebook posts.  Now it’s time to “do the next right thing,” as a friend once said in a homily.  Get involved, even as you continue to pray.  Do what you can to make life worth living for those whose suffering is unimaginable and, yes, frightening to the rest of us.  Don’t wait for someone else to do it.