AST101H1 Lecture Notes - Indictable Offence, Social Stigma, Postmedia News

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3 Feb 2013
In recent times, Canada has been debating a controversial issue that have not come to a
gratifying conclusion to this date. Euthanasia is also known as assisted suicide or mercy killing
by a physician (Medical News Today , 2010). The purpose of Euthanasia is to end a life of a
patient who is suffering from a terminal illness in a painless manner. Euthanasia was brought
forward in Canada after the case of a 42 year old woman, Sue Rodriguez, who wanted to legalize
assisted suicide (Margaret, 1996). Rodriguez was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 1991
and was enduring excruciating pain due the Lou Gehrig`s disease. She therefore wanted to
challenge section 241 of the Criminal Code which was “everyone who (b) aid or abets a person
to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years. Rodriguez chose to challenge s.241 of the
Criminal Code because it violated section 7 of her Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
(Hemani, 2011). Rodriguez upheld this issue in the Supreme Court of Canada in 1993 and was
overruled (CBC News, 2009). Rodriguez was eventually euthanized in 1994 by an anonymous
doctor. The issue of Euthanasia was elevated when Dr. Jack Kevorkian (Dr. Death), a Pathologist
in Chicago assisted-suicide for numerous patients who were suffering from various terminal
illnesses. He had assisted them with suicide painlessly because they were incapable of moving.
By doing so Dr. Kevorkian wanted to legalize Euthanasia and went on air to challenge the
prosecutors by broadcasting his recording of a patient that he euthanized (Levinson, 2010). In
1999, the prosecutors found Dr. Kevorkian guilty for murder and sentenced him for 10-25 years
in prison (CNN, 2002). Dr. Kevorkian strived to legalize Euthanasia to prevent patients from
suffering due to their terminal illness and he stated that ``their organs can be used for other
patients that are in need’ he stated from the film. Euthanasia became a hostile issue that is now
illegal. Overtime it has been a heated debate to this date. By decriminalizing euthanasia for a
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patient who is diagnosed with a terminal illness would alleviate their physical and emotional
suffering according to section 12, allows the patient to end their life with their own consent
according to section 7 and have equal rights to protect themselves from being forbidden to end
their lives according to section 15.
Studies show that patients who are diagnosed with terminal illnesses would endure severe
pain and are incapable of recovering. These patients become more dependent on their loved ones
and are unable to maintain a quality life (Grohol, 2006). I argue that by decriminalizing
euthanasia, it would alleviate the patients` suffering in a painless manner. According to section
12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it claims that ``Everyone has the right not to
be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. `` Patients’ who are incurable
and endure brutal pain due to their illness reduces their quality of life (Peter, 2012). They strive
to adapt to the new harsh lifestyle, however, they cannot bare the pain and which results as a
burden to their loved ones. S.12 allows these individuals to have the right to avoid undergoing
the cruel pain and pull the plug. It contradicts with the final decision made by the Supreme Court
of Canada by criminalizing Euthanasia considering that it was illegal in North America. By
criminalizing euthanasia, it hijack’s a patient’s right to avoid from suffering.
Sue Rodriguez a 42 year old woman who was mentally stable was suffering from the
Lou Gehrig's. Due to the excruciating pain and to reduce the family’s burden she had requested
to euthanize herself by an anonymous doctor. Debates state that only individuals who are
mentally impaired choose to die (O’Neil, 2012). However, it was proven that Rodriguez was
mentally stable and had requested to euthanatize herself before she had come to the stage where
she was incapable of functioning on her own. I strongly argue that many patients that subscribe
to euthanasia because they cannot physically and mentally handle the pain. According to the
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