Legalizing doctor assisted death is a controversial issue and Canada is now reviewing where it stands. Do its citizens need to be protected against thoughts of their own demise, or should they be assisted in making them a reality in a legal way?
A new bill to allow assisted suicide and legalize euthanasia in Canada was put before parliament in Ottawa, yesterday backed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The bill will now be studied by a committee and then voted on by both the House and Senate.
The vote will be done as a free vote and not one connected to party membership in order to allow the MPs voting to do so based on personal conscience.
But as any country facing such an issue would do, Canadians are asking, is it the right move?
Some, such as Robert-Falcon Ouellette, an Indigenous leader and a Liberal member of Parliament, are questioning the bill publicly. In light of two recent rashes of suicides in Canada’s First Nations communities-part of a lengthy, on-going crisis among Canada’s First Nation’s youth- Ouellette has admitted in a recent article on cbc.ca to being reluctant about conclusively agreeing with passing the bill.
Suicide, he says, runs counter to First Nation’s culture.
“Once we make a decision on this, there will be no going back,” Ouellette has told the cbc. “I’m concerned that we haven’t thought out the complete ramifications that a decision like this might have on indigenous communities that seem to be suffering greatly…This will be a right that will become entrenched and the impacts on vulnerable groups will become entrenched and it’s very hard to stop.”
Proponents of the bill believe it is a necessary step that will allow those living with perpetual suffering due to conditions brought about by incurable diseases, to end their lives with dignity and within the law, in order to cut short their suffering.
Canada’s proposed bill is restricting access to assisted suicide to those over 18 years of age, and is excluding those who suffer exclusively from mental illnesses from getting help in dying.
The bill is requiring that a patient be in an “advanced state of irreversible decline in capability” and that their death must be “reasonably foreseeable,” in order to access doctor assisted suicide services.
According to Globalnews.ca if a request is approved, a 15-day waiting period must lie between the signing of the request and the patient’s scheduled death in order to allow for a period of “reflection,” something that could possibly be waived if an individual is deemed to be likely to lose their ability to consent to their own death.
The bill also requires patients seeking ‘treatment’ to have a health card and in doing so, would forbid so-called ‘suicide tourism’.
Which road to take is hard to say. Both sides have some solid arguments.
Human euthanasia is currently legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Colombia and Luxembourg. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Albania and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico, Montana and California.