Wednesday, December 3, 2008

10 Euthanasia Questions Worthy of Reflection

Thought we'd try something a little different and really give you the reader a chance to ponder and weight in on some interesting questions pertaining to the topic of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

1. If euthanasia and assisted suicide were to become legalized in Canada, what role should doctors play? Should they be limited to deciding who’s eligible? Prescribing the fatal dosage? Administering the fatal dose? Or perhaps, some combination of all three?


2. If euthanasia and assisted suicide were to become legalized in Canada, how would the cost be covered? Would it be covered under provincial health plans or would it be user pay?


3. Is someone who’s sentenced to death in the US and refuses to appeal actually partaking in assisted suicide? According to the current legislation the appeal is mandatory because to do otherwise would be considered assisted suicide.


4. If euthanasia and assisted suicide services become readily available, will the poor who can’t afford palliative care be overrepresented in those choosing to be euthanized?


5. Why is suicide legal and assisted suicide illegal in Canada? Do the two acts not share the same principal of one person wanting to end their life and that that those using assisted suicide are just physically unable to kill themselves without help?


6. If euthanasia and assisted suicide were to become legalized in Canada, should mental pain and physical pain be considered equal under the law?


7. If euthanasia and assisted suicide were to become legalized, would people convicted of second-degree murder for performing euthanasia or aiding in suicides be released from prison?


8. If euthanasia and assisted suicide services become readily available, will elderly who otherwise would have fought to survive elect for euthanasia to avoid feeling burdensome?


9. If euthanasia and assisted suicide were to become legalized in Canada, would you assist someone who was terminally ill? Would you want someone to assist you if you were terminally ill?


10. Should euthanasia and assisted suicide be legalized in Canada and if so, under what circumstances?


3 comments:

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聊天室 said...

All good things come to an end. ........................................

Ethos said...

For assisted suicide but against voluntary euthanasia !

About the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide, one must distinguish between the legal, ethical and religious arguments. One cannot just say without qualification that there is no difference between the two : in one case it is the patient himself who take his own life (assisted suicide), whereas in euthanasia it is the physician. One must first specify on what grounds (legal, ethical or religious) he draws is arguments. In the field of ethics, one can reasonably argue that there is no difference between the two. However, in the legal field, there is a difference between euthanasia (so-called first-degree murder with a minimum sentence of life imprisonment) and assisted suicide (which is not a murder or homicide and which the maximum sentence is 14 years of imprisonment). In the case of assisted suicide, the cause of death is the patient's suicide and assisted suicide is somehow a form of complicity (infraction of complicity). But since the attempted suicide was decriminalized in Canada in 1972 (and in 1810 in France), this complicity (infraction of abetting suicide) makes no sense because this infraction should only exist if there is a main offence. But the suicide (or attempted suicide) is no longer a crime since 1972. So, logically, there cannot be any form of complicity in suicide. The offense of assisted suicide is a nonsense. Judge McLachlin said :

« In summary, the law draws a distinction between suicide and assisted suicide. The latter is criminal, the former is not. The effect of the distinction is to prevent people like Sue Rodriguez from exercising the autonomy over their bodies available to other people. The distinction, to borrow the language of the Law Reform Commission of Canada, "is difficult to justify on grounds of logic alone": Working Paper 28, Euthanasia, Aiding Suicide and Cessation of Treatment (1982), at p. 53. In short, it is arbitrary »

In contrast, voluntary euthanasia is considered a first-degree murder. The doctor kills the patient (at his request) by compassion to relieve his pain and suffering. There's a violation of one of the most fundamental ethical and legal principles : the prohibition to kill a human being. Our democratic societies are based on the principle that no one can remove a person's life. The end of the social contract is "the preservation of the contractors" and the protection of life has always founded the social fabric. We've abolished the death penalty in 1976 (and in 1981 in France) in response to the « broader public concerns about the taking of life by the state » (see United States v. Burns, [2001] 1 S.C.R. 283) ! Even if voluntary euthanasia (at the request of the patient) may, under certain circumstances, be justified ethically, we cannot ipso facto concluded that euthanasia should be legalized or decriminalized. The legalization or decriminalization of such an act requires that we take into account the social consequences of the legalization or decriminalization. The undeniable potential of abuse (especially for the weak and vulnerable who are unable to express their will) and the risk of erosion of the social ethos by the recognition of this practice are factors that must be taken into account. The risk of slippery slope from voluntary euthanasia (at the request of the competent patient) to non-voluntary euthanasia (without the consent of the incompetent patient) or involuntary (without regard to or against the consent of the competent patient) are real as confirmed by the Law Reform Commission of Canada which states :

"There is, first of all, a real danger that the procedure developed to allow the death of those who are a burden to themselves may be gradually diverted from its original purpose and eventually used as well to eliminate those who are a burden to others or to society. There is also the constant danger that the subject's consent to euthanasia may not really be a perfectly free and voluntary act ».

Eric Folot