August 14, 2015 8:24 pm

Ontario leads way in establishing advisory group on physician-assisted dying

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WATCH ABOVE: Ontario and other provinces are establishing an advisory group on the topic of physician-assisted dying. Christina Stevens talks to two women for whom the issue is very personal.

TORONTO — Ontario, with the participation of 11 provinces and territories, is establishing an “expert advisory group” to look at the issues of physician-assisted dying.

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“The advisory group will provide advice on the development of policies, practices and safeguards for provinces and territories to consider when physician-assisted dying is legal within their respective jurisdictions,” a press release from the Ministry of Health said.

The decision was quickly applauded by supporters of physician-assisted dying.

“Thank goodness the Ontario government has seen fit to get moving on this issue while the federal government really was waffling,” said Linda Jarrett, right-to-die activist.

Now 67, Jarrett was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 50, and is all too aware of her faltering health.

“I do not want a prolonged existence where I am being taken care of  24-7,” said Jarrett, who lives in Kitchener.

She believes that when her quality of life is no longer acceptable to her, dying should be her decision.

Also supporting the formation of the advisory group was Barb Gibson-Clifford.

“I am very pleased.  It’s important to me because I have stage four sarcoma,” said Gibson-Clifford.

After a decade of fighting cancer with surgeries,chemotherapy and radiation, her only treatment now is palliative.

She said she can’t do anything about dying but wants to control how and when.

“I will most likely experience organ shut down,” said Gibson-Clifford.

“I will have to be medicated for pain almost certainly. It could be a really nasty business.”

She doesn’t want her family to go through seeing her like that, adding that she doesn’t buy the “it’s morally wrong” argument.

“I’m a practicing Christian and I don’t believe that the God that I worship wants me to be in pain and suffering,” she said.

Both women believe the decision is theirs to make.

Jarrett said she isn’t trying to tell people who don’t agree with physician-assisted dying how to live their lives, so she doesn’t feel they should interfere with hers.

“That’s what i really want to emphasize is the right of choice.”

© 2015 Shaw Media

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