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Degrees of suffering

What a tragedy that Susan Griffiths would feel so stuck she sees no other option than assisted suicide. Her emotionally charged language about her condition and her present inability to cope with it suggest not so much needing to die as simply needing to find new ways of coping.

She balks at becoming dependent on others. Is it so unacceptable to allow oneself to be cared for, especially when there appears to be such a crowd of eager people ready to do so? And what of their feelings?

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We all suffer to varying degrees, and we all experience the inexorable loss of our faculties. Does that make life less worth living? Whose pain is special enough to merit assisted suicide? Where do we draw that line?

There is always more to life than what we think of it at any given moment. Perhaps an astute physician in Switzerland will be able to see through Griffiths' self-concerned stuckness, so that this friend and mother and grandmother is not lost so soon to those who love her.

It is a pity she was unable to avail herself of the excellent treatment, counselling and self-help resources we have right here in Canada.




If we are honest, people like Susan Griffiths, faced with the diagnosis of an incurable and progressively debilitating illness, want to be able to hire someone to end their days before they lose their dignity and their estate paying for care by indifferent strangers. I get it. Griffiths has a valid case for us to consider.

Much of the resistance to assisted suicide would vanish if we stop trying to make it another medical procedure. Our hospitals deal with people who are grievously ill, literally on death's doorstep. We want their focus on curing and healing.

Tarting up a facility to end the lives of desperate, distraught and fatally ill people as a medical clinic is repulsive. Any place that facilitates suicide must be kept at arm's length from our medical facilities. Their objectives are not just incompatible, they are diametrically opposed and irreconcilable.

Someone of sound mind diagnosed with an incurable, terminal ailment should be able to contract for his or her death. Those who are seeking assisted suicide are past caring about health care. The system cannot help them.

We could open a Life Termination Trustee's office. Someone has to ensure that the person is of sound mind and verify that there is a diagnosis of an incurable, debilitating, terminal illness. Someone has to be trained and certified to administer a humane but lethal dose of chemicals to end a life.

It can be done, but not as a part of our health-care system.




Legalized euthanasia is the freedom to be killed, not the freedom to die.

Soon this new right will become our responsibility.




Polls repeatedly indicate that the majority of Canadians are in favour of medically assisted suicide in certain situations regarding the terminally ill. Politicians without enough courage and refusing to honour the wishes of their constituents are to blame for a woman having to fly across the ocean to die. There is a better way. Pass the morphine and orange juice, please.




The talk again lately on the subject of legalizing euthanasia, using false compassion, and hard-case scenarios has obscured the grim, deep, ultimate, lasting issues underpinning it.

Few seem to realize that similar campaigns in Germany in the 1920s and '30s led to the psyche of most of its citizens being softened up to accept the annual killing of more than 10,000 patients in public institutions, before the Nazis were elected in 1933.

Then within a few months, they set up their first death camp at Dachau, with little opposition.




If you remember two decades ago a middle-aged woman on an old-style bike, red raincoat flapping, racing through the Pembina underpass every day, you've seen Susan Griffiths.

She continues to be exotic, vivacious and willing to go where most of us are even afraid to contemplate the trip.




Distorting conclusions

Your April 6 Page 1 headline Recipe for disaster, with the subheadline Manitoba's flood forecasters were too inexperienced to battle 2011's devastating flood, report concludes, distorts the conclusions of our report.

We never questioned the professional capability of the forecast group. The 2011 flood occurred across the province and was unprecedented in scope and severity. It would have posed a challenge to the most experienced forecasters.

Manitobans can rest assured that the Hydrologic Forecasting Centre has very skilled and knowledgeable forecasters. Rather than suggesting the forecasters were inadequate, our report commends them for "a high level of commitment and professionalism."

I think we all owe the staff that worked many long days without a break a word of thanks and congratulation on a job well done under the circumstances.


Manitoba 2011 Flood Review Task Force



Bible is full of 'ites'

Re: Insulted by derogatory term (Letters, April 8). Even though Frances Russell's column isn't to Andrea Sewell's liking, the term "Harperites" is hardly derogatory or inflammatory.

What about the "ites" from the Bible -- the Gibeonites, Hittites, Canaanites, Perizzites and Jebusites?




You know who you are

You people, and you know who you are, please, please, stop throwing your garbage out of your vehicle.

If you need a lesson on how to dispose of litter properly, do call me and I will arrange it with your mommy to give you a lesson.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 10, 2013 A8

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