Right to live or right to die?
by AlexR on February 4, 2015 - 11:00pm
This week, the Supreme Court of Canada got involved in a debate treating of the assisted death. Since the province of Quebec passed a law allowing under certain condition the assisted suicide, some Canadian right-to-die advocates claim a renew of the law. The court has for objective to decide if giving death to someone who requests it violates the laws. Those laws guarantee the right to life, liberty and security, as well as an equal treatment for all regarding the law. In Canada, helping someone to die is a crime punishable by a sentence of 14 years in prison. On the other hand, Canadian physicians are allowed to induce a coma and turn off the life-sustaining equipment. This practice is called palliative sedation, which is, according to right-to-die advocates, the same thing as assisted suicide or euthanasia. In Quebec, assisted suicide is now legal under condition. In order to have the right to die by themselves, patients have to request their desire by themselves and prove that they do it freely. The physician has to administer the drug by himself and take care of the patient until he dies. In the US, assisted-suicide is allowed for patient who have six months or less to live. Also, every state has its own version of that law, some are more rigorous than other. In Europe, no life expectancy is taken in consideration, if the patient is critically ill and asks to die, physicians have the right to prescribe lethal drugs. Like in the US, law change from province to province. For example, in the UK, assisted-suicide is a crime resulting in 14 years of prison or even a life sentence if it is considered a murder.
When someone decides to die, is it ethical or moral to help him, knowing that the law is against this kind of practice? Is it immoral because the law said so? In this article, right-to-die advocate and the law are in conflict. On their side, right-to-die activist claims that someone who has made the choice to die should be free to do what he/she thinks is the best for him/her. On its side, the Charter of Right and Freedoms stipulate that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice”(Charter of Right and Freedoms, section 7). This dilemma makes the right answer not obvious, since both party hold ethical values and facts. For the RTD activist, what’s ethical is to let the patients shorten their suffering. For the CRF, what’s ethical is life and security of the individual.
Original Title: Assisted suicide: Where do Canada and other countries stand?
Written for CBCnews on October 3, 2014