Emily Barber writes that Bill C-14 takes advantage of people at a time when they are the most vulnerable. Photo/Flachovatereza, Pixabay

Euthanasia is not salvation

By  Emily Barber, Youth Speak News
  • September 23, 2016

One would think, as a teenage girl, suicide should be the very last thing on my mind. But in a recent conversation with my grandfather, I’ve had reason to reflect on just how much Canadians have changed their perspective on assisted suicide and what a contrast it is to his generation.

In his younger days, people fought for life during the Second World War, not for the right to take life. His generation as a whole did not crave death. So why do we? Since when has death become a cause to be won?

The legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Canada is not only a change in policy but a statement as to the change in fundamental beliefs of Canadian citizens. But what is more disturbing is that the Senate is pushing for the scope of Bill C-14 to be expanded further to include those with severe degenerative diseases, victims of sexual assault and those with crippling mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder.

Despite being a country that prides itself on inclusiveness and acceptance, our government is fighting for the right to let the weakest among us kill themselves because apparently life isn’t worth living if you’re suffering. That is a pretty atrocious contradiction.

I am lucky because I have people in my life who tell me I have worth. That I, Emily Barber, matter. In my darkest hours, my friends and family have been there to comfort me and to chase away the doubts that often ensnare my mind.

But what if I was viewed more as a burden than a gift to those around me? Would I still be able to cope with the trials of everyday life? I think not. Nor can I expect anyone who is suffering far more than I from something like post-traumatic stress disorder to be able to either.

I cannot help but think this bill takes advantage of people at a time when they are most vulnerable. When they are no longer able to see life as a blessing, not a curse.

So many people would do anything to enjoy the basic privileges we often take for granted: health care, education, democracy, even basic human rights. Ask the Syrians. Ask any country struggling with oppression. Life is a gift and to shorten the relatively privileged life we live here in Canada is a downright shame.

This is why as youth, as Catholic youth especially, it is so important that we speak against physician-assisted suicide. Because we know, often first-hand, that mental illness can cause people to make decisions they later regret. We know that just because people suffer does not mean they are any less valued or any less human. And we know that we can trust in God to choose rightly the time in which we die.

As the scientists, activists and policy makers of the future, we are responsible for the direction in which the next few decades will go. Ours is the generation that can take Canada away from thoughts of death and towards thoughts of life.

(Barber, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)

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