Should voluntary, active euthanasia be legalized in Canada?
Human beings just like other life forms are susceptible to illness. As we know many diseases bring about excruciating amount of pain and make living very difficult. Many people would rather end their life rather than live it with pain and this has led to the notion of Euthanasia. Euthanasia means “painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable disease or in an irreversible coma” (AskOxford). It is derived from Greek – ‘eu’ which means ‘well’ and ‘thanatos’ which means ‘death’ (AskOxford). Today the term euthanasia holds a deeper and more complicated meaning and has become a controversial topic. When we talk about euthanasia, different scenarios come to mind. Each scenario requires more clarification and a different perspective. For example, a terminally ill person living on a respirator cannot express his will about euthanasia. Moreover, this person does not have anyone authorized to make a decision about euthanasia. In this case one needs to further categorize the scenario into a specific class. Euthanasia can be classified as active or passive euthanasia and either voluntary or involuntary. The discussion of the essay is strictly related to active voluntary euthanasia. Euthanasia is “active” when performed by an act (Boetzkes and Waluchow 390). In other words, an action is done that speeds up the death of a dying person who is suffering intolerably. Euthanasia is “voluntary” when it is carried out at the patient’s request (Boetzkes and Waluchow 390). Voluntary-active euthanasia is similar to physician assisted suicide (PAS). The debate for legalizing voluntary active euthanasia has been going on for many years now in different parts of the world. However, there are only a few countries that have made euthanasia legal. Canada is a country that recognizes and respects individual’s freedom and autonomy. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives Canadian’s essential civil and political rights. If a terminally ill person wishes to terminate his or her life, then we should respect that decision. It is their life and their decision in any case. If a person disagrees with voluntary active euthanasia for whatever reason, he/she does not have to exercise it. It all comes down to choice. As the famous philosopher, Immanuel Kant states that we should respect the autonomy of a person if we want to respect that person (Boetzkes and Waluchow 20). As a result, under specific requirements and strict procedures, I believe that a person should have a choice to decide when and how they die. Finally, Canada should legalize voluntary active euthanasia.
During the course of life, a person makes countless decisions from which some are good and others bad. For each of the decisions that a person makes, he or she takes responsibility of its outcome. People often make important decisions that directly affect their lives depending on how and where they want their lives to go. John Stuart Mill, a nineteenth century utilitarian gives the following example in his book On Liberty: “if either a public officer or anyone else saw a person attempting to cross a bridge which had been ascertained to be unsafe, and there were no time to warn him of his danger, they might seize him and turn him back without any real infringement of his liberty; for liberty consists in doing what one desires, and he does not desire to fall into the river” (Mill 118). In the previous example, John Stuart Mill argues that a person himself can make the best decision or judgment considering his or her own circumstances and interest (Mill 118). He further goes to say that if the person is capable of making decisions then we should also allow that person to make decision about whether or not their life is worth living. According to the Utilitarian approach an action as right or wrong depending on an assessment of its consequences (Boetzkes and Waluchow 12). Changing the law to allow...
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