Patients Should Decide on Euthanasia, Not Ideology

EspañolJust a few days ago the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled to make an amendment to the criminal ban on physician-assisted suicide. The strong presence of pro-life activists and groups such as the Catholic Civil Rights League and the International Right to Life Federation — and perhaps some strongly socially conservative members of Parliament — has led to an overwhelming anti-euthanasia attitude in the Parliament, which has otherwise prevented any progress on debates surrounding this issue

However, with the Supreme Court’s new decision to uphold Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the federal and provincial parliaments have 12 months to legislate restrictions. The court ruled that, in order to perform assisted suicide, there must be “a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”

This new rule should be celebrated by all Canadians — not merely because individuals in insufferable conditions now have the liberty to choose a dignified and less painful death, but because of the progress made by Canada’s legal system in maximizing individual liberty. This rule has liberated Canadians from yet another state-imposed moral dictum, where suicide in any form and context is perceived as immoral.

One can ask, and reasonably so, “If I am not a Catholic and do not share the same value and sentiment for life, why should such values be imposed on me by the state?”

Despite the fact that the assisted suicides will only be performed within the socialized medical system, which restricts the patient’s ability to choose where and by whom he desires to end his life, pro-life groups have made loud and clear objections to the court’s decision. They have even gone so far as to call these “the dark days of Canadian history,” and expressed fears regarding the victimization of terminally ill individuals.

Such concerns are absurd, since the court is asking for the clear consent of patients seeking assisted suicide, along with a severe medical condition that is supported by medical professionals. It is clear that people opposing this new rule are not concerned about the patients. Rather, for them it is a matter of imposing their own ideologies about the value of life.

Edited by Fergus Hodgson.

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