An atheist woman with an incurable brain disease took her own life on Thursday in spite of Christians who insisted that she was a “sinner” and would “go to hell” if she went through with the assisted suicide.
The Winnipeg Free Press‘ Lindor Reynolds reported that 72-year-old Susan Griffiths made the decision to travel to Europe for legal assisted suicide after being diagnosed with multiple system atrophy, which includes a loss of bodily functions and severe pain.
Griffiths passed away on Thursday at a Switzerland clinic after drinking a poisonous mixture of water and pentobarbital.
“I have to go to Switzerland because there’s no such service in Canada for Canadians who are drastically ill and want not to live anymore,” Griffiths told the Free Press earlier this month. “But it’s what I want because I do not want to live in the conditions that I have now.”
In a letter to Parliament before she died, she urged lawmakers to legalize assisted suicide.
“It will not be for everyone and many will reject the very idea for various reasons, but please imagine yourself or a loved one in my position and support a free vote to give Canadians the right an privilege of choice in this most important and person decision,” she wrote.
And in fact, one Christian Canadian contacted Reynolds insisting that Griffiths had to know that she would “go to hell” if she went through with her plans to die.
“The day after my story about Susan ran, I got a phone call from a distressed man,” Reynolds recalled. “He wanted me to give him Susan’s number. He was a Christian, he said, and he needed to tell her she’d go to hell if she went ahead with her plans.”
“She was in Europe, I said, and an atheist with no belief in an afterlife. He insisted she was a sinner. I suggested, as gently as possible, that he add Susan to his prayer list. She was already on mine, I said. He said he’d pray she changed her mind. That was his right, I said.”
Earlier this month, a spokesperson for federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said that the Conservative-controlled government would not reconsider its position on the right to die.
Watch this video from Winnipeg Free Press, broadcast April 12, 2013.