Saturday, 2 June 2007

The Right to Life and Death

Brother of deceased Jehovah's Witness says religion shouldn't be a factor
at 11:17 on June 2, 2007, EST.

MONTREAL (CP) - A former Jehovah's Witness, whose brother died after refusing blood transfusions, has collected 5,000 names on a petition which calls for doctors to be allowed to intervene medically regardless of the patient's religious beliefs.

Jonathan Lavoie says his brother died needlessly after refusing blood transfusions while being treated for an intestinal tumour.

Jean-Claude Lavoie, 26, a devout Witness, died last December.

I found this story on my Shaw home page
so that is where the link points.

It is disturbing, and it is only one man's opinion. BUT his brother decided to die. For whatever reason, the court's accept that competent adults have the right to refuse treatment. Of course, if someone knows that death is near, and will probably be very unpleasant and prolonged, we do not recognize any right to ask for treatment that would end their life easily and quickly, though we do this for our pets readily enough. Or even farm animals that are not useful anymore. Like the man said "They shoot horses, don't they".

The idea that freedom of religion does not extend to choosing not to have medical treatment is abhorrent to me. But so is the insistence that I, or my brother, cannot chose an easier exit. And I most certainly cannot help him to do so however competent we might be. The idea that Johnathon Lavoie has, that we become as children when we enter hospital, is untenable in a free society. But if we are going to be consistent, choosing to die may be a something a rational person could do - including asking someone to help.

It took my brother four days to die, after the tumor in his brain finally prevented him moving any part of his body. He was able to breathe, but not drink, nor communicate. I cannot imagine how it felt being trapped in an immobile body for four days. I can only hope that the people looking after him knew enough about pain management to ensure he did not suffer. But my dog, who also had inoperable tumors, was given a quick, peaceful and merciful release and I was there when she went. It wasn't easy for me but it was easy for her. I cannot help but think that my brother deserved better.

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