Do you think because euthanasia is not legal in Canada, that it doesn’t exist?
A really interesting thing about euthanasia is that there are subtle ways to get around the law.
In 1994, there was a news broadcast through CBC radio featuring a PhD student from Simon Fraser University, named Russell Ogden. He was researching euthanasia in Canada, and brought forward some of his findings.
Ogden discussed different situations where euthanasia (‘assisted suicide’) occurred with the help of physicians. He stated that the physicians believed that their actions were justifiable and their decisions were made with compassion. He emphasized that it was done out of respect of the moral choices for the people who wanted to die. The physicians had considered the law, but it was a secondary consideration to the compassion and desire they had for the wishes and the people they were helping.
The discussions about these illegal procedures took place over many years, before being carried out. Some of the patients were those with AIDS, that knew the discourse of each stage, or those with ALS, and other severe illnesses. The way the assisted suicide was carried out was not always humane however. In the cases where the physicians were actively involved it went well, in other cases it wasn’t as safe and gentle. In the best case scenario, the physicians would prescribe large doses of medication that would eventually be able to put the patients to rest. However, by doing this they may draw attention to themselves, and put their own lives and careers at risk. The patients’ ultimate goal was to try and create a death that will appear natural and not draw attention to their assistants.
Case law in Canada indicates that murder charges in acts of euthanasia are usually reduced to much lesser charges, such as mischief causing danger to life or administration of a noxious substance. Minor charges sometimes include jail sentences, however, in the three cases in the courts of Ontario, they were either suspended sentences, conditional discharge, or put on probation.
Russell Ogden supported the choices for individual on how they choose to end their lives. He believes that there should be a law that allows assisted suicide as a regulated form of behaviour and there should be some guidance from policy and from law.
The idea of death is a scary thing in our society. No one wants to talk about it; no one really wants to deal with it at all. We try and see it as natural, but is it? Death with dignity can be something far more valuable to those who are struggling. For some, it is important to know that they can control their own lives, they have been their whole life, why stop short. Those who are pro-euthanasia are just looking to have a choice for their future.