Margaret Somerville: Assisted Suicide is Not the Answer

At the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa, Brian Lilley talked to renowned ethicist Margaret Somerville about the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in favour of assisted suicide.

Already in Quebec, the “Care at the End of Life” bill will allow doctors to give patients lethal injections, beginning this December.

Somerville explains the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide, and touches on issues like capital punishment and palliative care.

A personal anecdote illustrates how difficult it can be to obtain palliative care, even though such care would likely help reduce calls for what she calls “murder, legalized.”

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  • jayme

    I know people have a real big issue with the right to die ok but is palliative care any better why is it ok to keep some alive pumped up on drugs having no clue who they are and not knowing whats going on.

    • Alain

      You misunderstand palliative care. I know from my years of working as a volunteer at a hospice. It is not about artificially extending life but about ensuring .the best of pain-free care for those who are terminal. These patients have already expressed their desire not to be kept “alive” in a vegetive state dependent on machines. I am always impressed at how the doctors and nurses adjust the pain management to the right amount and the care given. The setting bares no relation to the standard hospital setting; more like a home. Furthermore we also have patients who prefer to receive the same palliative care while remaining at home. The other family members also receive support and assistance if they wish. In both situations the terminal patients are able to depart with dignity and the love and support of any loved ones. It is indeed sad that instead of expanding these resources there are still those demanding resources for assisted suicide.

      • Justin St.Denis

        Thank you for your efforts. Effective palliative care really is the the most viable moral alternative to which we can turn.

      • jayme

        There are some people that want to keep people alive via life support there reason is you never know when a cure might be found there the people I have a real big issue with.

  • disqus_W6sfZCiOd8

    I like Margaret Somerville. She is kind and wow, sensible. One thing I don’t understand is why it is so difficult to access pain management—obviously it isn’t if you know the right people.

  • Euthanasia will be more common in graying countries with collapsing economies. Ethical concerns aside, what point will there be in finding treatments or cures when it will be more “cost-effective” just to kill people off in their sleep?

    • Jayme

      So out someone into a coma is a better way to go.

      • jayme

        Meant to say so put someone into a coma is better.

        • Read how many people wake up from comas.

          We’re not studying enough how brains repair or rewire themselves.

  • Frances

    The “right to die” is going to become the “responsibility to die” for my generation. It’s so much more cost-effective to kill the elderly than supporting them on their life journeys.