By Clare BruceTuesday 23 May 2017
Listen: Lorna Dueck shares why she is opposed to assisted suicide.
Above: TV host Lorna Dueck sits with her sister-in-law Margaret, who is dying of the debilitating terminal illness, MSA.
The voices campaigning for the legalisation of euthanasia are growing louder, but one journalist is outspoken about her wish to keep it outlawed—and for a very personal reason.
Lorna Dueck is a high-profile TV presenter in Canada, host of a show called Context. The topic of euthanasia entered her world when her own sister-in-law Margaret became ill with a debilitating called Multiple System Atrophy (MSA).
As the neuro-degenerative disease was stealing Margaret’s capacity to walk, talk, speak and care for herself, the public campaign to legalise assisted suicide was growing.
And so Margaret herself, with the help of Lorna her TV-presenter-sister, spoke out.
Despite the immense suffering brought on by her condition, she wanted to live. And she wanted the world to understand the value of choosing life.
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Why Choose to Live Through Immense Suffering?
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Hope 103.2 caught up with Lorna Dueck while she was visiting Australia recently, and asked her why life was so important to Margaret and her family, even in the midst of deep and ungraceful suffering.
An emotional Lorna was crystal clear in her response.
“I can hardly talk about Margaret and keep my composure,” Lorna said. “She can really only communicate by blinking now, and even maybe by the time I get home, that too will have been lost on her.
“What’s at stake in the euthanasia debate for families, is you are going to decide to cut loving short.”
“They are a very private family, they aren’t into the media scene but when euthanasia came to the fore and Margaret saw people with the same conditions she had, or even things not near as severe she had, arguing for death rather than learning to live with suffering, she said to me – in her broken way – ‘I want a voice in this national debate’.”
Margaret, together with Lorna and their family, believe that euthanasia or assisted suicide, is a tragic choice to cut short not just life, but love.
“What’s at stake in the euthanasia debate for families, is you are going to decide to cut loving short,” Lorna said. “[It’s saying] ‘I don’t want to suffer anymore and therefore I will stop my family from having to suffer as caregivers to me’.”
“We don’t know what we’re starting in a society when we start this discussion of killing. We don’t know what it means when we start making shortcuts on suffering that stop teaching us how to love each other. It’s really a Pandora’s box.”
When Lorna saw her family working together to care for Margaret, she learnt a lot about true love and commitment, and the value of life.
“I didn’t expect, when I came into my sister-in-law’s home, the beauty of what is involved when families really care for each other,” she said. “What I see is this enormous well spring of love as they care for Margaret. It’s incredible suffering that she’s going through, but it has transformed them and it has in turn transformed the rest of us.”
Impacting Her Nation
In a bid to weigh into the euthanasia debate with her personal experience, Lorna, with Margaret’s permission, made a short film about her journey through the illness. It has been shared far and wide and viewed by many thousands on Youtube and on television.
“Margaret’s story has been shared by palliative care specialists, by educators, by other families who are trying to find the courage to love as Margaret’s family has loved,” she said. “We won two TELLY Awards for her story and Margaret has lost her privacy because she’s just had the courage to share this is what it means to live like this.
“I think anyone who watches it goes away more determined to love, to be a better caregiver.”