Thunder Bay·Audio

Tracy Hurlbert says assisted suicide a risk to those with disabilities

Tracy Hurlbert said she can sympathize with those suffering from painful and terminal illness, but she also worries about the vulnerability of others.

Thunder Bay woman says if assisted suicide had been legal years ago, she may not be alive today

Tracy Hurlbert says she worries that those with disabilities could feel pressured to end their lives. (Supplied/Tracy Hurlbert)
If assisted suicide had been legal in Canada several decades ago... Tracy Hurlbert wonders if she'd still be here today. Hurlbert has MS and is an advocate for people with disabilities in Thunder Bay.
A Thunder Bay woman and advocate for people with disabilities in Thunder Bay says she has mixed feelings about the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on doctor assisted suicide.

Tracy Hurlbert, who has MS, and relies on a wheelchair to get around, said she can sympathize with those suffering from painful and terminal illness, but she also worries about the vulnerability of others.

Hurlbert says today, she's happy. But when she was first diagnosed, she felt hopeless about the future. 

"When I found out I had MS I thought 'oh, life's going to be terrible,'" she said. 

"I was thinking, oh, you know, maybe I should just end it ... and if a doctor would have been able to help me with that I probably would have jumped on board. And I really wouldn't have discovered what life can be like."

"And I'm thinking, if you catch someone at the wrong time with an illness that's going to be long-term ....  they could commit suicide before they even know what it's like to live."

Hurlbert said she thinks assisted suicide should only be an option for those with a painful and terminal illness, and that only patients (not doctors) should be able to suggest the option.

She also said there needs to be protections and supports in place to ensure that people with disabilities never feel pressured to end their lives. 

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