Should Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide Be Legalized in Canada?

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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 resident of British Columbia, Canada, who suffered from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (CBC News Online, 2004). She was helped to commit suicide by a physician in violation of Canadian law in the presence of a Member of Parliament. Euthanasia allows patients to die with dignity because continuing to live can inflict more problems, on both the patient having to cope with the pain and indignity of a prolonged death, and the family because it is distressing having to witness the gradual decline of a loved one. The fact that passive voluntary euthanasia is allowed in Canada should be taken into consideration in making the decision to legalize active voluntary euthanasia more acceptable. It is difficult to find the difference between letting them die and killing patients because they all have the same intention, which is to bring about death. No one disputes the idea that physicians, caregivers, nurses, and other health care providers have a responsibility to do everything possible to relieve the suffering of dying patients. Euthanasia allows for the greater good of a number of people because the patient's suffering is removed, the family can prepare and grieve properly, medical staff can avoid more grief and stress, and the cost of patient's terminal care can be removed. It would be impossible to control the abuses that legalization would unleash on society. Active euthanasia is a deliberate taking of human life. It would be like taking a different form of suicide, where one's liberty is being taken away because it is alienating your own right to preserve your life. What would begin as voluntary would soon become involuntary. This indicates that an individual's personal choices to end his or her own life would change towards an individual who is being killed against his or her own will, with the primary intent of ending his or her suffering. Euthanasia will harm society as a whole because it would result in the deaths of people who truly do not want to die. People who...
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