A university professor, also a member of the Liberal party, is speaking out against the Liberal’s bill on assisted dying. Wendy Robbins says her Liberal party’s bill doesn’t go far enough. Her strong feelings come from watching her own family members suffer.
She first experienced assisted dying with her grandfather – a man who wanted to die on his own terms, but didn’t have his own say when the time came.
“When he died, it was actually my birthday,” says Robbins. “The whole family thought, actually, that it was my birthday gift. It was such a relief that his suffering had ended.”
The second case involved her father, who suffered a stroke in 2001. The man was a Right to Die advocate, and he knew exactly what he wanted.
“He looked me straight in the eye and I said ‘Dad, if we don’t put the stomach tube in you, you will die. He simply said ‘Roger’”.
After the death of her grandfather, then father, Robbins penned her own living will.
“Here’s the conditions under which I would not want my life continued, and if in fact, if it were to be legal, here are the circumstances in which I would want assistance dying,” stated Robbin in her own directive.
With her painful and emotional memories, Robbins stood up last week with her Liberal colleagues at the party’s national convention. There, Robbins claimed the party’s own Bill C-14 on assisted dying isn’t good enough.
She says the bill is too restrictive and that the government should recognize advance requests – like the one she drew up for herself.
“What we’re hoping for, is that the Senate gets to work and gets this legislation passed,” says Anthony Knight of the New Brunswick Medical Society.
According to the society, New Brunswick doctors want the bill passed by Monday, so they have directions if they get a patient who requires the assistance.
“Having inconsistencies across the country would create serious challenges for patients in the system,” says Robbins.
She doesn’t believe the changes in the bill need to be rushed, and says it’s about the patient, not the doctor.
“Hopefully change, ever so slightly, to get it implemented in the next few months,” says Robbins. “Maybe even the next few weeks, I don’t think in the next few days.”
As for her own directive – she says it hasn’t changed in the 15 years since she wrote it.