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Astronomy & Astrophysics
Michael Reid

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 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 film, You Don’t Know Jack, Dr. Kevorkian strictly mentions that he does not euthanize for individuals who under depression. He instead referred them to consult a counsellor and get immediate help. 98% of the patients Dr. Kevorkian encounters often undergo depression and does not assist them with suicide. In the film, he checked their records to see if the patients have attended multiple clinics prior to completing the euthanasia process. Therefore, with s.12 of the Charter, an individual has the right not to endure severe pain- particularly a patient diagnosed with a terminal illness. If not, it defeats the purpose of the Charter, because you must take into account that it is initially meant for the citizens of Canada. S. 241 of the Criminal Code only emphasizes on an individual who aids another to commit suicide. It goes parallel with s.12 of the Charter and contradicts. I think that s.241 of the Criminal Code is directing for individual who are depressed and have a hard time coping with their problems emotionally versus the s.12 of the Charter emphasizes that one has the right to avoid suffering from brutal pain. The health care system in Canada is phenomenal however in some circumstances the patient and their families have to spend some money to hospitalize the patient. Doctors notify the family in advance regarding the time period of the individual who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. These patients live with their families at home and the cost containment is very high to hospitalize them (Ru Tang, 2004). Families’ expenses increase due to administering the patients and purchasing their medications, equipments and other supplies required. Families have to take time off their busy schedule to care for these patients who unfortunately have no hope. It is ultimately a huge burden that the family has to endure (O’Neil, 2012). Such situations have occurred in the past where the parents took the law in their own hands and chose to “murder” (compassionate killing) their child. In the case of Latimer, the father, Robert Latimer was involved in a “murder” of his 2 year old daughter, Tracey. Tracey was quadriplegic and was not able to function very well. She in fact weighed 40 pounds and had a mentality of a two month old baby. Robert mentioned that his daughter was suffering and it was evident through her facial expressions. Robert and his wife had a very heavy burden in which they were not able to handle both financially and emotionally. Tracey had required numerous surgeries and medications which were not cheap. In addition, as parents they became emotionally instable, by watching their child struggle every day (Howe, 2012). Therefore, Robert had kept Tracey in the passenger seat of his truck and filled it with Carbon Dioxide, as she died in her sleep. However, he was convicted of second degree murder by the jury and was incarcerated for two years. This may appear to be cruel, though I agree with Robert. It is evident that they have been patiently waiting for twelve years for their daug
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