The Canadian Euthanasia Debate

by kimberlyS on November 4, 2017 - 3:26pm

This article discusses about before the Bill legalizing physician assisted suicide became legal in Canada. As an undergraduate medical student back in the 1970's, the author mentions that doctors were very uncomfortable with the idea of euthanasia. Ethical reasons were implied and when specialists had no choice but to ''pull the plug'' when the patient had no hope of survival, also worried specialists since it wasn't officially legal. The author brang in the term ''indirect euthanasia'', that was used before ''passive euthanasia'', which was concluded to be an ''appropriate care''. The author underlines the fact that ''indirect euthanasia'' was considered innapropriate since it contributed to bringing death more quickly because the large doses of the analgesia medication, depressed the patients even if it relieved their pain. Whereas, ''passive euthanasia'' is the professional way of treating individuals with illnesses since the practice is controlled in Canadian hospitals. Now, ''indirect euthanasia'' is still used but only in serious cases. Schafer defines that hospitals' goal is not necessarily to make patients live longer but to make them live in comfort during their treatments even if their askings lead to death. The wishes of patients are more acknowledged than before. There was a lot of hatred towards doctors who let patients die and hospitals were considered dark and dehumanized institutions. Today, the issue still exists since many individuals still believe that euthanizing is an insensitive act. Although, hospitals changed the term to '' physician assisted suicide''.

Schafer stands on the idea that Canadians should be able to have access to diverse options when it comes to their health. Whether it's palliative care or physician assisted suicide. He points out that the legislation should learn from the fact that people were practicing assisted suicide secretly in Canada and the United States, which turned out very badly (much abuse and mistakes occurred). Schafer states that individuals should be able to decide for themselves and to have what they need in a safe environment. 

I personally agree with the author of this article. I believe that people are allowed to choose if they want to continue living in their pain or to decide to let go. It's the wishes of the patients that counts, not the others. They're the ones suffering and going through the effects of the strong medication to stay alive. Of course sometimes there are disagreements with for example, family members because they want this individual to stay alive but I think that it's cruel to make somebody stay in this world if they can't even enjoy life because of their painful condition. I find it selfish for individuals to use cultural aspects to try and ban ''physician assisted suicide'' because they're not the ones in the patients shoes. I think it was a smart idea for hospitals to give many options to the society. 

 Is it ethically correct to let somebody suffer if they're going to die anyway?

Schafer, Arthur. “The great Canadian euthanasia debate.” The Globe and Mail, 26 Mar. 2017,



I agree with your belief that Canada should practice physician assisted suicide because what it all comes down to is the "my body, my life, my choice" idea. Many argue that those who ask to be euthanized are thinking selfishly because they are not thinking of how their families would feel; but, hypothetically, if a loved one was in so much suffering that they asked for such a thing, wouldn't you want them to do whatever will make them feel better. I would think that seeing a loved one in so much pain would hurt the families as well that you would want what is best for them.

Thank you for your helpful reply!
I totally agree with what you mentioned. If an individual really loves their family member, they will respect their wishes and try to understand the pain they're going through.
I am curious to know, what would you suggest a person to do, if they're stuck between pain and the fear of their family suffering because of the loss they have to go through?

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