At this point I would like to turn your attention back to some of the legal issues. I won’t discuss any of the laws, but I would like to discuss the steps towards change that came because of a woman named Sue Rodriguez. Rodriguez was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1991. In 1992, she courageously brought her story with a video statement played to members of Parliament, and asked lawmakers to change the law banning assisted suicide. Rodriguez presented a bold statement; "If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?" she said. (According to CBC News)
It’s interesting because what she captured in those words was a concern that everyone who has ever been in a similar situation has felt. It is also a concern that those who have not had a similar experience would not relate to, which poses a problem.
The Supreme Court of Canada ultimately ruled against Rodriguez, but her struggle stimulated the public. Rodriguez committed suicide in 1994 with the help of an anonymous doctor.
Her story left the public questioning the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Although the law didn’t pass, her story was one of many resistors who took their lives into their own hands. “Who owns your body?” Who gets to make those choices? Medical Schools are placing more and more emphasis and bringing up the issue of euthanasia to prospective candidates, to be sure that they will not go against their oath and against the law. However, as we have seen from the previous blog of PhD student’s study of euthanasia in Canada, many doctors still chose to let their patients have control over their bodies and respect their values and wishes.
Both Canada and the United States have always banned assisted suicide, charging people who help others kill themselves with murder, manslaughter and other offences. One famous doctor on this issue would be Dr. Kevorkian. He was a retired Michigan pathologist, loudly advocated a person's right to die and invented an instrument - called the "suicide machine" - that lets patients inject themselves intravenously with a lethal injection of potassium chloride. (CBC News)
Police charged him in the deaths of a number of people, but juries repeatedly let him off until 1999, when he was jailed on a conviction of second-degree murder after helping a terminally ill patient to die. In 2007, Kevorkian was released from jail in and said he had no regrets for conducting the assisted suicide.
Oregon is the only state with a law that specifically allows physician-assisted suicide, enacted in 1997. I wonder what people are waiting for.
Going back to Rodriguez’s statement, ‘who owns my life?’ makes you think. Who does own us? Why is society making those decisions that dictate our life? Does Canada not pride itself on its inclusion of all individuals? Doesn’t Canada celebrate diversity? Then why does Canada enforce everyone to die under regulated circumstances? Why can we live by our own choices, but need to die on someone else’s terms?
We would love to hear your thoughts on all this