Like most good things in life, a good death is worth planning for. But many people don’t even talk about dying, never mind plan for it. Medical science is able to keep us alive longer and longer, but length of life does not necessarily relate to its quality. The end of life can be painful, degrading, lonely and not much fun. As in many other things that touch our lives in the 21st century, technology is ahead of ethics and compassion.

Shouldn’t we have control over our own bodies? Why does “the government” decide when, where and how we die? A survey conducted by the Lethbridge College in 2010 found that two out of three people in southern Alberta were in favour of medically assisted suicide for terminally ill people with the proportion increasing to three out of four for the whole of Canada. Indeed, with statistics like that, why is the tail wagging the dog?

The speaker will argue that Canadians should have the same rights as people living in Oregon, Washington, Montana or several European countries who now have the right to choose to die at their own time and in their own place.

Speaker: John Warren

John has been in favour of medically assisted dying since watching a movie called “Whose Life is It Anyway” about 30 years ago and he was supportive of Sue Rodriguez’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1993 to allow her to have someone help her die instead of suffering a painful and protracted death from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The court denied her appeal.

Last year John got a nasty case of Hepatitis B that resulted in a few trips to the Lethbridge Hospital and to the Foothills Hospital in Calgary. Having looked death in the face John has now developed an interest in the end of life that seemed, at that time, to be imminent. He is particularly interested in the right to die movement across Canada and around the world. John is a member of Dying With Dignity and the Farewell Foundation.

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