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Legalization Of Assisted Suicide Essay

1619 words - 7 pages

In recent years physician assisted suicide has gained considerable media attention. For many, the idea of physician assisted suicide is an emotional issue; however, it is an important issue. The facts should be considered when discussing and facilitating change in public policies. The Right to die, as it relates to individual rights and wellbeing of the individual, needs to be addressed. Legalizing physician assisted suicide in Canada is a compassionate response to unbearable suffering. It can bring relief to the families who love terminally ill patients. With safeguards in place, such as waiting periods, family notification, and input from multiple physicians; physician assisted ...view middle of the document...

These are sometimes controversial and misunderstood, and they are all extremely complex. The end-of-life debate seems burdened and also confused by two of these issues in particular, which are euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. The difference between the two is this. Euthanasia is when a doctor fulfills a patient's request to die by administering a lethal dosage of drugs and physician-assisted suicide when a doctor prescribes a lethal dosage and a means to die, but a patient himself or another person administers it (Gulli).
In Canada there has been a substantial number of court cases have involved various aspects of assisted death. Many of these cases have captured public interest; for instance, the names of Samuel Golubchuk, Robert Latimer, Nancy Morrison and Evelyn Martens are but a few examples of Canadians related to high-profile end-of-life cases (Schuklenk, Udo, et al. p5). One case that stands out occurred in the early 1990s. Sue Rodriguez, who was an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) sufferer and an advocate of assisted suicide, forced the right-to-die debate into the spotlight in Canada. In September 1993, the Supreme Court of Canada voted 5-4, narrowly disallowing her plea for a physician-assisted death (Nicol, Julia, et al., 2-5).
In 1994, Sue Rodriguez would take her own life with the help of an anonymous physician. The four Supreme Court justices who sided with Rodriguez wrote in the minority judgment that the right to die with dignity should be well protected as is any other aspect of the right to life (Silver. Lisa A. par 3-4). The justices believed that the Criminal Code prevented people like Rodriguez from exercising autonomy over their own bodies available to other people. Since the Rodriguez case, there has been nearly a dozen bills introduced in federal Parliament to permit euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide by amending the Criminal Code, all of which have gone on to expire or have been dropped or defeated (Gulli).
In 2012, the Right to die movement won a landmark victory as law criminalizing medically-assisted dying is deemed to violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Gloria Taylor became the first Canadian granted personal exemption for assistance to die. Outside of Canada, assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia is legal in only seven jurisdictions which are: Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, and five American states have made the practice legal, including New Mexico in January 2014 (Gulli). Public support for the decriminalization of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia is high in Canada. Regardless of the support assisted suicide and euthanasia, it is prohibited by section 229 of the Criminal Code. Assisted suicide is punishable under the criminal code and one could be charged with either a first-degree murder or second degree murder. First degree murder charges has a mandatory minimum life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years, and...

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