Doctor assisted suicide is a complicated subject with individuals who feel strongly on both sides of the debate. If a doctor were to tell you that there was no chance of a recovery and you’d be in immense pain for the rest of your life – would you want to end your life? Most individuals would argue yes without a second thought but there are others that would feel differently.
As of February 6th, 2015 assisted suicide will no longer be criminalized in Canada; this decision was made in February of 2014. The government has had a year to address the law but is not prepared to implement laws to regulate euthanasia. Quebec in particular is anxious to implement its own laws and to regulate doctor assisted suicides. However, the rest of the nation has not formulated any such legislation to address the issue. Health Ministers have argued that they require more time, six months to be exact, to formulate a consistent, national legislation to legalize doctor assisted suicide. Critics are arguing this is far too long.
Doctor assisted suicide would require the following criteria to decipher if a patient is eligible for euthanasia:
1. The patient is suffering from constant unbearable pain due to an irreversible decline in health;
2. there is no reasonable chance of relief from the pain;
3. the patient is mentally sound and fully competent;
4. the patient is an adult; and
5. the patient is at an advanced stated of an irreversible deteriorating condition
Patients may outline in thier wills for example, that if they are in a vegetative state due to health complications they give their consent to their family members to inform thier doctors that they’d like to be euthanized. Many doctors feel this is the humane thing to do but some individuals stand strongly against such practices.
Many Canadians believe that their right to life should entail their right to end their lives. Proponents argue that it is inhumane to allow a human to suffer unbearable pain and not dictate how to address thier physical health in a point of rapid deterioration. Pro- euthanasia advocates also argue that religion has no space in the legal realm as the “state and church” should remain separated; thus, religious arguments should not hold weight in the court of law.
Many individuals feel euthanasia undermines their religious doctrines and humans should not intervene with God’s will. Humans make mistakes, God does not.
Others have argued that doctors may abuse thier powers and make decisions in a hasty manner without considering all alternatives for patients. Furthermore, doctors are not error-free, they can make a wrong diagnosis and endanger the life of a patient. For instance, a doctor may inform a patient that they have a life-threatening non-reversible disease; consequently, the patient becomes depressed. The patient then makes an emotional decision to end their life as they are in pain and believe that it will be life-long and irreversible. However in reality, the patient actually has a treatable disease that is not life debilitating.
Opponents have also argued that there have been multiple cases of “miracle” recoveries, despite doctors suggesting there was no chance of betterment. Regardless of what the “chances” are, if there is a chance, the patient should not be permitted to make a decision to end their lives because the chance of miracle does exist. The argument essentially contends that once an individual hears the words “there’s no chance of recovery” they lose hope, perhaps fall victim to depression and make emotional decisions which they would likely have regretted if a miracle had taken place. Supporters argue that these cases are rare and few.
Is assisted-suicide legal in your country? If so, how successful is the implementation of such legislation?
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Points of Discussion:
1. How do you feel about the assisted-suicide decision?
2. What changes would you implement to the legislation, if any?