“Chamberlain takes readers on a thought-provoking, emotional journey through the many facets of [Physician Assisted Suicide], presenting the basic arguments for and against this unorthodox medical proposal. Chamberlain addresses difficult, disturbing questions with an objectivity tempered by compassion.”
Langley, British Columbia—Does society have the right to take a life? This is the provocative question Abbottsford resident and well-known TWU professor Paul Chamberlain, PhD, tackles in his newest book, Final Wishes. The novel, launched this spring, addresses the issue of physician-assisted suicide through a fictional dialogue between two friends. Chamberlain states that he wrote the novel to engage the ordinary, thinking person and for those who have a special concern with this issue.
“Almost all of us have or will face end-of-life questions at some point in our lives,” says Chamberlain. “These questions become increasingly difficult with advances in medical technology that have made it possible to keep people alive far longer than we could a generation ago.”
Chamberlain’s education and experience have given him solid credentials to critically examine the issue. A graduate from Trinity Evangelical School with a Master’s of Divinity, as well as from Marquette University with a PhD in ethics and political philosophy, Chamberlain has been answering questions on the subject posed in his classrooms over the past ten years as an associate professor of philosophy at Trinity Western University.
But for Chamberlain, the topic has not been solely academic. He has faced the issue head-on as a son whose mother is in the advanced stages of multiple sclerosis. “I have watched her lose the ability to function ‘normally’ and to begin to feel useless and a burden to others. It has caused me to realize that whatever decisions we, as a society, make on issues like these, will affect vulnerable people like my mother directly.”
In preparation for Final Wishes, Chamberlain participated in public debates with several defenders of physician-assisted suicide. Included in his appearances were forums at six different universities with Dr. Faye Girsh, executive director of the Hemlock Society, the largest right-to-die organization in the United States with over 27,000 members. Chamberlain also took part in a forum with Svend Robinson, the member of Parliament for Burnaby and a proponent of legalizing physician-assisted suicide.
“Many people on both sides of the question of legalizing physician-assisted-suicide are genuinely compassionate. The only way to vilify your opponent on this issue is to make sure that you don’t meet him or her or talk with him or her face-to-face,” says Chamberlain. “Often, the difference between the opposing views is not the existence or lack of compassion but rather the views about which course of action would be most compassionate.”
And his conclusions? “Changing public policy to make physician-assisted suicide legal will have huge implications for our most vulnerable people—the elderly, terminally ill, and disabled. It could put these people in a position where, in addition to the stresses and burdens they already bear, their own continued existence becomes a choice they must make. Beyond that, it is our moral duty to voice the concerns of these vulnerable members of our society.”
The book has received outstanding reviews from both readers and publishers. Publishers Weekly says that “Chamberlain takes readers on a thought-provoking, emotional journey through the many facets of PAS, presenting the basic arguments for and against this unorthodox medical proposal. Chamberlain addresses difficult, disturbing questions with an objectivity tempered by compassion.”
Final Wishes follows Chamberlain’s first book, titled Can We Be Good Without God? Final Wishes is available at the Trinity Western University Bookstore for $19.99.
Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a privately funded Christian liberal arts university enrolling 2,763 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 34 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.
Last Updated: 2012-08-21