November 4, 2006
Hon. Justice John Sopinka
Supreme Court of Canada
301 Wellington St.
Re: Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General)
As the majority writer in the case of Rodriguez v. British Columbia, you are well aware that this case has and will become a case that will be infamous with ethics vs. the law. You are well aware of the facts and I need not to reiterate them to you. I write to you in response to the courts final decision that was rendered on September 30, 1993. Sue Rodriguez was denied her appeal that section 241(b) of the criminal code violated sections 7, 12 and 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Rodriguez, 1). It is undoubtedly a verdict that used basic ethical decision making principles and theory to deny Sue Rodriguez her rights.
It is obvious why this case and especially its verdict has caused such an uproar with ethicists and society. The ethical dilemma presented in this case is whether Canadian law has the authority to prohibit Sue Rodriguez the right to pursue physician assisted suicide as a way to end her life.
The most prominent ethical principle that was used against Sue Rodriguez was Respect for Persons. This ethical principal states "individuals should be treated as autonomous agents, and persons with diminished autonomy are entitled to protection" (Levine, XXII). Sue Rodriguez in this case was simply exercising her right to autonomy. When diagnosed and given her grim prognosis she was informed of her range of options and the devastating painful outcome of death, which is one the key factors of this ethical principle. The person must be given all the necessary information in order for them to be able to make an ethical decision. Sue Rodriguez was simply trying to control the manner in which she died. The court room argued she was of diminished autonomy and that another party must look out for her best interests. Sue Rodriguez was in control of her mind and actions,...
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