Legalization of Euthanasia in Canada: Good or Bad?
by jpd95 on March 22, 2015 - 11:46am
Euthanasia is now a topic of practically every day conversation. Belgium has allowed euthanasia since May of 2002, and Canada has been having the conversation about the right to die for months now. I will be examining a Globe and Mail article discussing about Quebec becoming the first Canadian province to adopt a right to die legislation, a Dan Gardner article looking at the Dutch story of euthanasia, and a Telegraph article looking at a personal story of a Belgium man filing for euthanasia after a botched sex change.
Quebec Bill 52, commonly known as the Quebec National Assembly passed the Right-to-Die Act by 80% of the MNAs (Members of National Assembly). The Bill sets outlines “the conditions in which a terminally ill adult” would be able to ask for doctor assisted suicide. According to Bill 52, a person who wishes to take advantage of the right to die must submit a request to the attending physician and approved by consulting with the hospital’s medial staff. After that, a person would at anytime be able to sign a request for medical aid in ending his or her life. MNA for the Parti Québecois, Véronique Hivon, who was a minister for the PQ government, was the person who spearheaded the bill says that people should not see it as “’medical aid to die’ but ‘end-of-life care.’” Quebec Premier, Philippe Couillard, was a neurosurgeon before entering politics and says, “his encounters with dying patients convinced him people do not want to die, but they do want to end their suffering.” Bill 52 is set to become law as of the end of the 2015 calendar year.
Dan Gardner argues that assisted suicide already takes place in Canada, but physicians simply do not talk about it. Gardner goes on to say that in the Netherlands euthanasia happened before it was legalized in 2002, but the difference between there and here is the fact that physicians in the Netherlands are honest about that fact. Gardner goes on to argue that doctors simply do not want to talk about what would happen once it becomes legal in Canada and how to regulate it; it would become a taboo topic. Gardner continues on by saying that in Canada, any and all critical decisions made regarding end of life care are made behind closed doors, in private, without people knowing and the people who are making these decisions want to keep it that way. What Gardner is truly trying to say is that the majority of people who are against euthanasia argue that it is a slippery slope that once they allow one thing the dominos will begin to fall. They often argue that with the option of euthanasia doctors will opt for the cheaper option when it comes to treating a patient and simply ending their life. A lot of people simply would be afraid of the fact that the doctor would act without getting the consent of the patient, which would be the final domino to fall in the slippery slope argument. Many of the critics of euthanasia here in Canada argue with those statements, without paying attention to the statistics in the Netherlands, and that is all Gardner is trying to say.
One story that critics in Canada have really grabbed on to and run with is the story of a Belgian man killed by euthanasia after a sex change operation went wrong. A Belgian man, Nathan (who was born Nancy) was allowed legal euthanasia “on the ground of ‘unbearable psychological suffering’”. Nathan Verhelst, hours before dying, said that he “‘was the girl nobody wanted’”. Critics in Canada are looking at this and are saying it is the perfect example of the slippery slope argument in progress, Mr. Vehelst was allowed to die when he was not feeling any physical pain and his life was not anywhere near the end stages. There was nothing wrong with him physically, other than the fact that his new penis had “’symptoms of rejection’”, that is all. Mr. Vehelst asked to be euthanized because he did not want to be “’a monster.’” This Telegraph article also goes on to say that statistics about medical euthanasia “show a steep year on year increase in the number of patients” that doctors killed after they were presented with a request to die. A record number of “1,432 cases of euthanasia in 2012” was recorded in Belgium, that number is up twenty-five per cent from 2011. Also, Belgium is also looking into possibly extending “’mercy killing’ legislation to children.” This Telegraph article gives a lot of ammunition, if you want to call it that, to the people opposed to doctor assisted suicide here in Canada, but the fact remains that it truly is fascinating to look at other countries’ models and go from there.
These three articles offer different viewpoints when it comes to doctor assisted suicide, or the right to die. Quebec was the first Canadian province to get the ball rolling when it comes to implementing the right to die legislation, and Canada as a whole is looking to follow suit. Gardner does a good job of arguing that people need to look at the statistics before they simply say that if assisted suicide becomes law a slippery slope will follow, as it is not always the case. Then there is the tragic story of Nathan Verhelst, which gives all the ammunition to both sides, those who believe it should be up to the patient to decide whether or not to end their life, and those who believe that such a decision should never be made.
Gardner, Dan. "Euthanasia Is Not A Slippery Slope." Euthanasia Is Not A Slippery Slope. Ottawa Citizen, 18 Nov. 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <http://www.dangardner.ca/articles/item/225-euthanasia-is-not-a-slippery-....
Séguin, Rhéal. "Quebec First Province to Adopt Right-to-die Legislation." The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail, 05 June 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/quebec-first-province-to-ad....
Waterfield, Bruno. "Belgian Killed by Euthanasia after a Botched Sex Change Operation." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 01 Oct. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. < http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/belgium/10346616/Belgia....