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Supreme Court allowing doctor assisted suicide

Nausheen Kumar | Interrobang | Opinion | February 16th, 2015



Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
The Supreme Court decision, which made head-turning news in Ottawa on February 6, was related to the allowance of physician-assisted death on mentally competent patients. This marked as an historic day, a day I guess, a vast majority of Canadian people can commemorate in the future.

The case was brought by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association on behalf of two women – Kay Carter and Gloria Taylor – both of whom have died since the legal battle began. Both women suffered from degenerative diseases and wanted a doctor’s assistance in helping them die.

This has posed to be a decision that garnered different reactions. Although doctor-assisted death rule has mixed reviews, this has indeed been considered as the most fundamental of the human laws. It turned out to be a sensitive issue for the Canadian people.

As far as the political perspective is concerned, it has been reported that not even a single Member of Parliament happened to ask a question in the parliamentary session in spite of the presence of Justice Minister Peter MacKay in the House.

Everybody has the right to end life on his/ her own terms – especially if the patient has been declared to be irremediable. Although this has been long debated, it was bound to have far-reaching implications on the rights and interests of upcoming generations as well. Everybody in this world has the right to live the life with his or her desires. But for those who do not wish to continue living, they’ve been given an option now.

Politically, this decision is expected to set a foundation for a significant change in people’s lives. Such rules and regulations exist already in certain countries, but this kind will have its repercussions sooner or later in other parts of the world too.

This decision sounds to be humane from the medical point of view. It has been stated that doctors, however, will never be enforced to help patients cut their lives short. Medicinal professional colleges are given the right to decide upon this. Another issue to be considered amid all these thoughts is the criteria upon which an illness will be counted as a medical condition. The Supreme Court seems to be silent about this as of now. The court does include psychological pain as an enduring and intolerable suffering.

It will perhaps allow people to live a peaceful life with a thought that they are not going to end up their life grievously. They will definitely have the peace of mind and what might happen is that the terminally ill may not use this doctor-assisted path. But they now know they have a choice at any point of their lives they don’t have to worry about being trapped in their own bodies.

The Supreme Court decision indeed ignited a spark to a long-pending and perhaps mostly awaited issue for a severe majority of Canadian population that received mixed responses from people from various backgrounds, consider medical, political and social spheres of life.

Support for Assisted Dying in Canada

Credit: Candis Bross, Map of Canada with Provinces - Single Color by FreeVectorMaps.com Data: http://www.dyingwithdignity.ca/resources/second-release-poll-results/inner_articles/761.php

A ruling from the Supreme Court allows doctors to assist patients who wish to end their lives, a decision that clearly supports this survey done in 2014. This map shows a regional breakdown of results that the Dying with Dignity Canada-Ipsos Reid 2014 Survey conducted; in every region of Canada, there is broad support for the right to die. A closer look into the provincial polling data reveals that voters across the political spectrum support the legalization of Assisted Dying.
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