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End-of-life debate finds no easy consensus among readers

Categories: Canada

Doctors treating Hassan Rasouli at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre believe it is in their patient's best interest to end the current treatment regime, but his wife has refused consent. (CBC) readers reacted immediately and strongly to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision regarding Hassan Rasouli, a Toronto man being kept alive on a ventilator and feeding tube since 2010.

The decision highlights a very difficult situation, and a great mix of rationales were considered in readers' reaction to the story. Who should choose whether to continue life support? Are loved ones' reasons to keep life support going purely personal or emotional, or rooted in religious beliefs? 

Most readers asserted that if it was the latter, such a factor shouldn't have any impact on the doctors' decision. Many also concluded that being kept alive in a continually deteriorating condition was no way to live.

    • I can't speak for this man or his family but I can speak for myself. If I were in Mr. Rasouli's position, I would hope my family loved me enough to let me go and not demand I suffer to the end of my artificial days. - truth or consequences

    • The policy on who makes the final call ought to consider all the relevant facts. Personal religious commitment is not a relevant consideration for programs and services run by the state. If she could make a good case for the likelihood of his returning to a worthwhile life, then fine. But "my religion says no" isn't reason enough. - Phil Major

    • This is unnatural! If the machine is what's keeping him alive, that is not living! Take him off the machine and let Nature dictates if he lives or dies. Give the man his dignity. The wife is selfish for using her religion to get what she wants. Is it written in her holy book, that a machine should do the work of God? - kallen01

    • Life support is completely unnatural. If someone was left to their own devices (no pun intended), their life would end. Maintaining a hopeless, artificial existence is definitely not in the best interest of the patient. It's a selfish act by the living who can't/won't let go and let nature take its course. - IvanNano

    • Please have your affairs in order once you are an adult (bad stuff happens). Even living wills have been disputed (by both sides - medical and family), so be very specific. I understand the family wanting to hang on to their family member and religious beliefs, but I doubt very much that Mr. Rasouli would wish to live like this. A living will would have been his voice, now. - GabbyG 
Some did agree with the court's decision, saying that the final decision must go with the patient's family and loved ones instead of doctors.

    • If it were me in that bed, I would want someone to pull the plug, but it's not me. He has his beliefs and they should be respected. No one should be required to give up their life because they are being inconvenient. It's a slippery slope when you lose your right to life. - RBinOttawa

    • I'm no fan of religion but my reasons for supporting this decision have nothing to do with religion. In the absence of the wishes of the individual, the wishes of the family should take precedence over the opinion of doctors. - Andrew of Richmond

    • As long as he has minimal consciousness he has a chance to think... through thinking we can continue to evolve. All efforts should be made to keep a person alive. However, if the brain is dead, then the spirit is gone, and no point to keep a body alive. - Off grid gal

Despite the strong feelings the story elicited, many sympathized with the difficult situation Rasouli's family is faced with. Some readers shared their personal stories, despite the fact there might be no easy answer to the continuing end-of-life debate.

  • My mother had an incredible recovery from a severe brain injury. The doctors gave us very little hope because they simply did not know what the outcome would be. The brain is still a mystery, and can do some incredible things. Part of me understands why they have not given up hope. It must be really difficult for them. - SolarFlarez

What are your thoughts on the case, and the court's decision? You can continue the conversation in the comments section below.

Tags: Canada, Community, Community Reaction

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