Good news for me. Soon I will be able to commit suicide legally with little fuss and with all the help I need. The Parliament of Canada, under Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will soon make it easier to die.
In Canada, this is considered progressive.
When euthanasia was legalized in June 2016 Trudeau promised that only an adult of sound mind, whose death was easily foreseeable, would be able to be killed by a physician. To date that law has claimed 13,000 victims.
Now, the government will soon remove that “foreseeable death” clause. So essentially anyone with a crippling disease or chronic pain will be able to request state-sanctioned suicide.
In June, there will be a study to see about expanding euthanasia to “mature minors” — also known as “teenagers.” Another fib revealed by the pro-death crowd.
The government had intended to include mental illness as a sole condition for euthanasia but modified its stance — at least for now. However, if someone has a chronic illness and is also suffering from some form of mental illness, which of course could be the result of living with pain or being sick, they can go ahead and be killed.
Those of us who railed against euthanasia saw there would be a slippery slope. We were called fearmongers. Nearly every editorial in the country claimed that the slippery slope was an irrational fear.
They were wrong and we were right — though being right in this case is a hollow victory.
For me, this is personal on a number of levels.
First, I have actively opposed euthanasia in print and through public talks and radio interviews for close to 13 years. I believed that any legalization would eventually expand and that there would be a slippery slope. All one had to do was look at the experience of Belgium and the Netherlands to see how far euthanasia could go.
Second, I have been suffering for nearly nine years from a serious spinal condition called stenosis, a narrowing of the spine. Despite eight hours of surgery in 2012, I still need morphine every day to function.
I can no longer travel, cycle, hike or go to the gym. I barely ever go out at night because that is when the pain is the worst.
I also had to give up a great job that I loved at a Toronto newspaper, the National Post.
Sounds awful, does it not? Sounds like I am ready to die? Sounds like I should die?
But there is no way I will end my life. Many who oppose euthanasia are criticized for being indifferent to the pain of others. Given my own situation, I am more sympathetic than most to those who suffer. I have not just talked the talk. It is my reality.
Others say opposition to euthanasia is the work of pushy Christian moralists shoving their beliefs down the throats of others. I am a devout Catholic who takes the teachings of the Church seriously. But I am also a realist. In Canada, the only poll that looked at religious affiliation and support for euthanasia found 70% of Catholics in favor of some kind of assisted suicide.
In numerous newspaper articles and dozens of talks I have always argued from a secular point of view because I believe it is more convincing. I mention that more people are beating cancer or going into long remissions. Deadly diseases such as Hepatitis C now have a cure. And pain medication gets better all the time.
What to me is so awful is that in Canada only 30% of those who want palliative care can get it. In 2017 Trudeau’s Liberal party set aside roughly $6 billion to $10 billlion for more and better care.
But instead of spending that money, Trudeau and his pro-death cronies keep pushing the envelope on euthanasia. I call them pro-death because they do not even have the decency to allow for a choice in this matter.
It is immoral but considered okay in a country that has lost its morality.
What I have learned through all this is that the human spirit is strong, and it can bear a lot more than we think.
In my condition I have learned to take intense pleasure in the things I can do rather than mourn the things I no longer can do. Music and literature have become more meaningful. You will notice the themes of much literature and music are about heartbreak and suffering.
I also do volunteer work on a palliative ward. I am not there to make myself feel better — rather, I see it as a form of civic and Christian duty. The people I have met are awe-inspiring in their courage and determination to live life as best they can.
And my faith has grown by leaps and bounds.
Pain can be conquered. It takes patience, good medical management and a willingness to see discomfort not as an enemy but as a condition to be met head-on. In this way, suffering can become an opportunity grow in courage, and a way to be an inspiration for others.
For Catholics, pain and suffering is also a way to grow closer to Christ crucified. Which is not say to we should purposely suffer, but that it has a sacred purpose.
Years ago I read a book called Stay. It was a secular argument against euthanasia. The main idea is that all of us have responsibilities. We have family and friends who love us and need us. We have obligations to our communities. We also have to think about what our premature deaths will mean to those around us.
We are like soldiers on guard duty. We should not leave our post.
Charles Lewis is a frequent contributor to National Catholic Register.