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LETTER: Individual rights should trump collective laws in most cases, Langley man argues

The debate about collective social beliefs and individual rights has hit a nerve with readers

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the letter: Walnut Grove letter writer lays out personal beliefs on killing submitted by David Nielsen and published in the Langley Advance Times, Nov 11.

David takes issue with the term “beliefs of the majority” versus the inalienable/unalterable rights and rules within our democracy as they pertain to the issue of medically assisted death and medical abortion. He sees societal beliefs and societal rules as different and distinct, but in my mind they are a bit like the “chicken and the egg.”

Where do our democratic rights and rules came from, if not from shared beliefs? The Canadian public have made their wishes known regarding medically assisted dying (MAiD) and medical abortions and this is democracy at work. It is the fundamental basis to democracy that “the majority rules.”

As well, I feel it was in poor taste that David used the examples of historical racism against African Americans and German Jews as analogies to support his claim that majority opinions are always wrong. Really? I can’t see how racist beliefs can be used to compare beliefs about increased individual freedoms and the right to choose.

We should be thankful that we live in a country where majority opinion is able to force progressive changes to rules and laws that increase individual choice and freedoms. That is not to say that these changes should be made lightly, but after much discussion and examination. That is how we develop as a society. To continue to be guided by out-dated and irrelevant rules and laws leads to societal mutiny. I believe that the ability to make the ultimate choices regarding our own bodies is “rights and freedoms” at the most basic level.

Of all David’s opinions, I am in agreement with one; that we should not impose our beliefs on others. We differ however on how we interpret “imposing.” Letting the majority decide, is the expectation of a democratic system. This is not imposing, but an attempt at the opposite. David is misguided in feeling an obligation to inform and educate the “majority progressive left” (his words) that they are wrong. It seems to me that “abdicating collective responsibility” (his words) and letting the individual decide is exactly the same as not imposing our beliefs on others.

While I respect David’s right to state his opinion, majority beliefs have and will again, become tomorrow’s rules and laws. There is no point reopening what has in the past been a bitter polarizing argument. MAiD and medical abortions are not murder. They are an individual choice and a right in Canadian society, as determined by the beliefs of the majority.

Roy McLure, Fort Langley

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