Euthanasia: Are We Ready To Have This Debate?

The last time I even hinted at the Liberals tackling this issue, it was met with a fairly surprising, what I found irrational reaction. That said, everyone is entitled to their perspective, so I found it enlightening. I support euthanasia from a moral standpoint, not blanket endorsement, but under certain circumstances. In Quebec, they have begun to try and address euthanasia in the political realm, which has spilled over to Ottawa, through the Bloc.

There is a new poll out, which I submit as a possible political argument, to underscore the moral argument. It would see, that Canadians overwhelming support euthanasia in certain instances:

63% support legalizing euthanasia; 24% are opposed

The numbers are more dramatic, when you look at the voting demographics. It would seem, the older you are, the more you support limited euthanasia, which is instructive when you consider who is most likely to vote:

18-34 age 53% support, 30% oppose
35-54 age 65% support 22% oppose
55+ 71% support 20%

Now, overlap those numbers with who is likely to vote, and you see a superfically compelling political angle. 

When you break the numbers down regionally, you see further evidence of a political upside- for the Liberals specifically. Support is highest in Quebec, British Columbia and Atlantic Canada. In Ontario, we see a 55%-30% split and in Alberta support stands at 48%, while 44% oppose. In every region of the country support outweighs, but the numbers are more pronounced electorally.

The numbers are particularly interesting because Canadians make clear distinctions what they deem acceptable and where they draw the line on euthanasia. I would submit, this makes a modest reform proposal palitable, particularly if it is very well defined:

-A patient is in a coma with little or no hope of waking. The patient had previously specified they wished to have their life terminated if they were ever to find themselves in this condition: 81% support, 13% oppose
-patient is terminally ill and will die in less than six months. The patient is expected to suffer a great deal of physical and mental anguish during that time: 78% support, 15% oppose
-A patient has a lifelong, but non-life threatening condition such as being quadriplegic and wishes to end his or her life: 36% support, 55% oppose

You can see a clear drop off, where we draw the line. You can also see staggeringly strong support for dealing with end of life issues. Opponents argue "let nature take its course" but anybody who has dealt with terminal illness knows, the amount of drugs involved, the assistance required to sustain, there is NOTHING natural about any of it, so let’s dispense with that illusion.

I think it’s time a political party stepped up and dealt with this issue that everyone whispers about. Canadians have strong, developed opinions, because many of us have dealt with them personally. To just ignore is somewhat cowardly, but also politically understandable, if that makes any sense. Again today, I’m reading about the lack of identity for the Liberal brand, the party desperately needs a signature stand that both defines it and denotes certain bravery. I would submit, the above numbers, like others before, show there is support in the land for anyone who dares stick their neck out a bit. That said, I expect nothing… 

Click HERE to read more from Steve Val

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