Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Opinion
Classified Sites

Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

The Doctor Game -- Anyone else mad as hell?

Why am I mad as hell? This week I finally joined "Dignitas," the Swiss organization that allows freedom of choice in death.

Now I’m registered member 18924. I hope I don’t get a chance to use it soon or ever. But if I develop a debilitating illness, Dignitas will be available.

Many share my view. We want to cry out "We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore."

Let’s first get mad as hell at gutless politicians, such as any prime minister who claims our Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects us all from injustice, yet denies freedom from the agony of terminal cancer pain, Lou Gehrig’s disease and other degenerative diseases. Some justice!

Then let’s get mad as hell at those who constantly oppose assisted death to anyone, for asinine reasons. The ones who claim they have a superior moral code that the rest of us are lacking or insist that assisted death leads to the slippery slope theory of the elderly being arbitrarily removed from society for financial reasons.

These people know this is a blatant lie. The truth is, and history has proven it, that people who are offered the choice of assisted death seldom use it. Rather, it’s reassuring for them to know that this exit from life is available if they desperately need it.

I have no problem with those who, for religious, moral or ethical reasons, are opposed to assisted death. They have my blessing to suffer the agonies of painful death as long as they like. But they have no inborn right to say the rest of us are morally corrupt in deciding this is senseless torture.

For instance, 35 years ago, I discovered that heroin therapy had been available in England for 90 years to ease the agony of terminal cancer pain. So I wrote what I thought was a humanitarian column requesting the Canadian government to legalize this painkiller for cancer patients. I was immediately denounced by the establishment as a headline-seeking journalist.

The Canadian Cancer Society responded that morphine was as good as heroin in most, though not all, cases! The RCMP worried about criminal activity and pharmacists about robberies. So I visited England, interviewed Scotland Yard, visited hospitals and pharmacies and discovered these charges were false. Respected Canadian organizations had shamelessly distorted the truth. In effect, they did not want to be told by a medical journalist they had not done their research and had been denying cancer patients relief from agony for 90 years.

Heroin was legalized in December 1984 after a prolonged fight. Roughly $450,000 that had been donated by readers to assist this cause was given to the University of Toronto Medical School to establish the Gifford-Jones professorship in Pain Control and Palliative Care.

So why am I complaining? There should be an even playing field. Terminal pain and the choice to end one’s life when circumstances warrant it should be available to any who can’t afford to purchase a one-way plane ticket to Switzerland or do not wish to die in another country. This is where our Charter of Rights and Freedoms fails miserably.

An editor once told me it’s the job of a journalist to make people think. But he could have added that proposals like this are also dangerous to write in a column. Critics can send complaints to newspapers asking that the author be fired. It can and has happened in the past. Or as Voltaire remarked, "It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."

But I’m curious to know how many readers are as "mad as hell" as I am. I have no desire to be swamped by email. However, I do know that many currently receive my free medical tips at docgiff.com.

An increase in numbers will indicate how many are just as angry as I am. But I’m convinced that any attempt to change this injustice is doomed unless tens of thousands of people are mad as hell. I’ll report the response in a later column.

» Dr. Gifford-Jones is a graduate of The University of Toronto and The Harvard Medical School. He took post-graduate training in surgery at the Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, McGill University in Montreal and Harvard. During his medical training he has been a family doctor, hotel doctor and ship’s surgeon. His medical column is published by 70 Canadian newspapers, several in the U.S. and the Epoch Times which has editions in a number of European countries.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 1, 2014

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Why am I mad as hell? This week I finally joined "Dignitas," the Swiss organization that allows freedom of choice in death.

Now I’m registered member 18924. I hope I don’t get a chance to use it soon or ever. But if I develop a debilitating illness, Dignitas will be available.

Please subscribe to view full article.

Already subscribed? Login to view full article.

Not yet a subscriber? Click here to sign up

Why am I mad as hell? This week I finally joined "Dignitas," the Swiss organization that allows freedom of choice in death.

Now I’m registered member 18924. I hope I don’t get a chance to use it soon or ever. But if I develop a debilitating illness, Dignitas will be available.

Subscription required to view full article.

A subscription to the Brandon Sun Newspaper is required to view this article. Please update your user information if you are already a newspaper subscriber.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
The First World War at 100
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media