Monday, October 27, 2008

Abortion vs. Euthanasia

One of the most beautiful things about Canada is how we are so multicultural and diverse. There are no two people the same, and no two people that can internalize things in the same way. That is something wonderful that we should embrace. We should embrace our likes, and our differences. And most of all, respect each other for who they are. To allow for this great respect, there needs to be an immense appreciation for the beliefs and choices of others. For a country so big, it seems odd that there is no open pathway to make your own decisions about managing your life the way you see fit.

One of our concerns is how we can be so liberal in legalizing abortion, yet deny the option for euthanasia. It is shocking how the word ‘choice’ became so limited.

The progression of Canada's abortion laws started in the 1960s. Pierre Trudeau introduced a bill in 1967 (amendment to Section 251 of the Canadian Criminal Code). This bill was called the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69, and provided for abortions when the health of the woman was in danger as determined by a three-doctor hospital committee.
It is interesting how the health of the woman was the deciding factor for abortion, as noted by a physician. While with euthanasia, you must factor in the future health of the patient, which is over looked.

This same bill also legalized homosexuality and contraception, and would be the subject of one of Trudeau's most famous quotations: "The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation." Perhaps he needed to be clearer on where else the state has no business being. If people can make choices about their sexuality, and women can make choices about ending the life of their fetus, then why can’t people make the choice of ending their own life if the alternative is pain and suffering?

In 1973, Dr. Henry Morgantaler had confessed performing over 5000 abortions without the approval of the three-doctor hospital committee because he did not believe the law went far enough. The case went to court multiple times; Morgantaler spent time in jail, and upon release opened an abortion clinic, which lead to more ongoing trials.

In the courts decision (Morgentaler et. al. v. Her Majesty The Queen [1988] (1 S.C.R. 30) at 37), the Court stated:
"The right to liberty... guarantees a degree of personal autonomy over important decisions intimately affecting his or her private life. ... The decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision and in a free and democratic society, the conscience of the individual must be paramount to that of the state."

Now replace the word pregnancy with ‘life’. It is a moral decision, and who better to make that decision than that individual with the support of the people closest to them.

Information from this entry is taken from:
- Supreme Court Case R. vs. Morgantaler
- Abortions Rights Coalition of Canada

1 comment:

Adam said...

I think some parallels can be drawn in abortion laws that can justify the use of euthanasia. Back in the 60’s abortion laws centered on the future health and well being of the mother, today I believe our medical system can determine which patients are terminal. That being said a terminal patient knowing their future health will only deteriorate has the right to a procedure that will prevent any future deterioration of their condition.