Assisted suicide: Time to go forward
by blackie27 on February 15, 2015 - 9:40pm
The article “Tread carefully on assisted suicide” published in the National Post reviews the features of the law on assisted suicide passed on February 6, 2015 by the Supreme Court of Canada. With this law, the Court allows adults suffering from a severe and incurable medical condition to be helped by a physician through the means of assisted suicide, to terminate their "enduring and intolerable suffering" (Tread carefully on assisted suicide). This action would be allowed only if the patient answers to specific criterias as the one previously described. In fact, the Court overruled the ban in force since 1994 on assisted suicide that in the Court’s mind “violated the Charter right to "life, liberty and security of the person"” (Tread carefully on assisted suicide). In its wisdom, the Court declares that Canadian citizens should not be kept from taking decisions on their own lives. However, this ruling is an important ethical issue for the Canadian population which is still divided on this matter. On one hand, the advocates of this law argue that leaving people to die in intolerable suffering is a direct violation to their rights as a person and to their dignity (Tread carefully on assisted suicide). On the other hand, the opponents such as The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition that oppose this law, argue that this could lead to a certain loss of control that could affect people that are more vulnerable or not give the proper value of a human life. Should society stop evolving and create laws that will help terminally ill individuals keep their dignity only because there are possible future unknowns?
As for me, I strongly agree with the physician suicide assisted (PAS) law that the Supreme Court has recently passed. I do not think that it is necessary to keep an individual alive as long as possible only to see this individual often parish of hunger and thirst after being given enormous quantities of morphine that consequently stops the individual’s heart. Therefore, even if there will be in the future unpredictable and unknown situations related to this law as happened in any previous laws, it is still preferable to consider a PAS as a possible alternative than to strip a patient of his fundamental dignity. Individuals, adults and children above 16 years old, that are in terminal phase due to illness with constant unbearable suffering and who desire ending their own life, would benefit in many ways from this law. In fact, these patients will have access to their individual autonomy, put an end to their “unremitting and excruciating pain” and be psychologically reassured that there is a possible alternative to a painful death (Emanuel, 630). In my eyes, all these advantages bring to the patient a more serene and adequate end of life leaving a much better souvenir to his surviving love ones.
Opponents to this law affirm that ending a patient’s life imply many disadvantages such as diminishing the integrity of physicians helping in the act or the emotional pain and harm inflicted to the surviving family members (Emanuel, 635). In addition, the members of The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition disagree with my arguments as they affirm that this law is too vague and not limited only to people who are terminally ill versus patients who have not assured at this stage of their illness and still can make a rational decision on their faith. They also argue that a waiting period or psychological consultations could be necessary before contemplating a PAS that should be allowed “only in the most dire of circumstances” (Tread carefully on assisted suicide). Furthermore, they think that a PAS could be avoided by presenting to the patient who finds his pain to be unbearable, additional medical treatments. In my opinion, to leave a patient to die in unjustifiable and intolerable suffering has worse consequences on the patient and his family than if he was allowed a PAS. The final decision to live or die in dignity is a fundamental right reserved only to the suffering and terminally ill individuals.
Emanuel, Ezekiel J. "What Is The Great Benefit Of Legalizing Euthanasia Or Physician-
Assisted Suicide?." Ethics 109.3 (1999): 629. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Feb. 2015.
“Tread carefully on assisted suicide.” National Post 7 February 2015: A.12. Canadian
Newsstand Major Dailies. Web. 15 Feb. 2015.