Friday, June 3, 2011

Book guides us into That Good Night

Here's something I didn't know until I read the latest book by Toronto-based magazine writer and Ryerson University instructor Tim Falconer, That Good Night: Ethicists, Euthanasia and End of Life Care:

The word Euthanasia comes from the Greek for "Good Death."

Leaving aside the question of whether I should have known the origins of the word euthanasia (today's schools aren't big on ancient Greek), it says a lot, I think, about how modern society has come to view death since this word was first coined.

In our society, post-eugenics and post Nazi-ism, the word euthanasia has much darker connotations than a literal translation would suggest. Today, it conjures up images of cruelty, designer babies and a world in which some people are ranked ahead of others (and other ranked as lesser beings).

With all that baggage, it is hardly surprising that so many people -- particularly from the disabled community -- have been so vocal in their opposition to anything that might make euthanasia possible in Canada. In North America, only Oregon and Washington state have euthanasia laws, with Pennsylvania currently considering legislation.

Falconer would like to see euthanasia and assisted suicide laws in Canada, with strict controls. He's not optimistic it will happen any time soon, however. A full story will appear int eh Toronto Star soon.


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