At 80, a former gay activist in Canada wants to choose “rational suicide”
While legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide are popularly regarded as remedies for the pain and indignity of terminal illness, a number of people could take advantage of it to “complete” their lives even though they are not terminally ill.
This CBC News video features Canadian John Alan Lee, a frail but relatively healthy 80-year-old former gay activist, who says that he will choose “rational suicide” before he becomes incapable of killing himself. “Not too soon, but if you wait too long and you end up in care, they won’t let you make that choice anymore. If I ended up in hospital or even a nursing care home, I would be prevented from making that choice and I know people for whom that happened. And they are cautionary tales for me,” he says.
Mr Lee says that his life is his own, nobody else’s not even his children’s. His son Peter disagrees with his plans. “I think he thought about how it would affect me, I’m not sure he thought as much about how it would affect his grandchildren,” Peter said.
Mr Lee had a complicated life, even if he describes it in the video clip as “wonderful”. Abandoned by his parents and raised as a foster child, he lived for 15 years in communes. He married in 1958 and had two children. Then he discovered that he was gay, walked out on the marriage, became a trade union official, and then a professor of sociology at the University of Toronto and a gay activist. His website says that enjoys “collecting ‘firsts’ in various kinds of civilized notoriety”. He had scores of gay lovers, as outlined in his autobiography, Love’s Gay Fool.
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