Assisted suicide is a highly controversial topic that evokes emotions in various spectrums for patients, doctors, law makers and the average person. The first case of assisted suicide in Ontario took place on March 17th, 2016.
The patient was an 81-year-old man suffering from cancer, specifically lymphoma. The patient’s family pleaded with the court to allow the man pass away with dignity. The family retained a lawyer to argue the case before the court who argued that it was the patients right to decide how they live or die. The judge permitted the family’s request in accordance to the recent Supreme Court ruling. The patient’s family claimed that the patient’s dignity had been restored and they believe it was the right thing to do. The patient who cannot be identified, passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Although the patient was granted the right to assisted suicide, the subject is still illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada. The family argued to have the laws forbidding assisted suicide under the Criminal Code of Canada revoked. The family argued the fighting this legal battle was draining and took away from the time they could’ve possibly spent with the patient.
Quebec has embraced doctor assisted suicide, however; Ontario is still behind. The Liberal government has not finalized the proposed bill for assisted suicide and were granted a four-month extension in February to iron out any issues regarding the subject. While the government continues to work through issues surrounding doctor assisted suicide legislation, the courts have allowed terminally ill patients to begin applying for right to end their lives despite the Criminal Code ban. So far, there have been cases of successful assisted suicides in B.C and in Manitoba, there is also a pending case in Ontario that is waiting to be addressed.
Passive suicide, which allows doctors to avoid taking medical measures to prolong lives of patients is permitted in Canada. These wishes are communicated by the patient’s family members or relatives.
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Points of Discussion:
1. How do you feel about this case? Do you believe this a progressive step for Canadian legislation?
2. Is doctor – assisted suicide permitted in your country?