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Should Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide Be Legalized in Canada?

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Should Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide Be Legalized in Canada?

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  • Feb. 2008
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Euthanasia, formally known as mercy killing, is the act of intentionally causing the painless death of a sick person, rather than allowing that person to die naturally. In terms of a physician's actions, it can be passive in that a physician plays no direct role in the death of the person or it can be active in that the physician does something directly to cause the death (Yount, 2002). Euthanasia may also be formed into three types of act, which are voluntary, involuntary, and nonvoluntary. Voluntary involves killing the patient at his or her request. Involuntary occurs when the patient does not give consent, or refuses. Nonvoluntary is where the patient is not able to make the decision about their medical treatment so it is up to a third party to make the decision for them (Yount, 2002). Legalizing euthanasia would cause many complications because we are dealing with a very controversial issue that brings into focus some extremely powerful, conflicting, and competing values. Under the Canadian Criminal Code, active voluntary euthanasia is illegal and individuals can be convicted for 14 years for murder (Ogden & Young, 2000). Passive euthanasia has been legal because the courts have recognized the right of a patient to refuse and to terminate unwanted medical treatments. The question that remains today is whether legalizing active euthanasia in Canada could either benefit or harm not only the individuals involved, but also society as a whole. Pro-euthanasia people portray euthanasia as a case of individual liberty. The individual has their own right to do as they wish with their own bodies so long as it does not harm others. Laws against euthanasia are not only unjust because they violate individual privacy, but they are also unconscionable because they prolong a person's suffering against his or her will. It is not fair that the government should decide their death. "Whose life is it, anyway?" A plea by the late Sue Rodriguez, a high-profile, terminally-ill...

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