Should terminally ill patients decide when to end their own pain and suffering? Yes. It gives the patient the freedom and relief knowing they get to pass on their own terms when they have decided that their time has come, rather than the long term insufferable pain passing that comes along with their diseases. Although it has been a heavily debated topic in our society, it is legal here in Canada to die through the medical assistance of a physician.
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The medical assistance in dying has of late been a widely discussed and debatable matter among citizens in Canada since the passing of Bill C-14 in June of 2016. The definition of physician-assisted death is “the voluntary termination of one's own life by administration of a lethal substance with the direct or indirect assistance of a physician” (Shiel Jr., 2017). According to Dying with Dignity (2019), in order to meet the requirements for medical assistance in dying, you “must be over the age of 18, eligible for government-funded health insurance in Canada, have a grievous and irremediable condition, has made a voluntary request for MAID that was not made as a result of external pressure, give informed consent to receive MAID after having been informed of the means that are available to relieve their suffering, including palliative care.”An example of an imbalance involving MAID would be the R. v. Latimr case. Robert William Latimr, accused of second degree murder for killing his severly disabled 12 year old daughter, Tracy Latimr. Robert had placed Tracy in his truck, used a hose to allow fumes from the exhaust pipe to enter the inside of the vehicle and encased Tracy in toxic fumes who had eventually gave into the effects resulting in her death from carbon monoxide poisoning. Tracy Latimr could not give verbal consent to her father due to her severe condition which caused her inability to speak at all. Although it may have been the right thing to do through the eyes of Robert, he shouldn’t have done it under those circumstances which had led to his own incarceration.
Physicians should abide to Bill C-14 although it may be ethically wrong to most to do so. Some physicians would agree that it would destroy their reputation or even their credibility as well ruin the fact that they swear under oath to not cause any harm or wrongdoing but to heal their patients as best as they can (Greek Medicine, 2002). The Federal Legislation of Canada does not provide any reasons to compel physicians into assisting patients to death but gives the choice to refuse to assist a patient in dying giving the right to both parties involved, the patient and the physician (CMPA, 2015). Religious reasons could be a factor to the refusal of assistance since Christianity, Judaism, and Sikhism among many other religions heavily agree that human life is one of the most sacred things therefore causing a majority of religions to denounce and forbid the idea of assisted death no matter the circumstances (BBC, 2019). Physicians should definitely have the right to refuse if they do not agree with assisted death but after refusal, physicians who do not comply to meet the minimum requirement of helping a patient seek referral services to allow them to find a physician who would follow through should be considered morally wrong and selfish. The Canadian government should keep religious views and state segregated under the matters of anything involving the medical field because the refusal to treat a patient for MAID in a specific facility could possibly cause even more pain and suffering for the patient to try to find a facility they can transfer into that can actually provide the desired services, it is already difficult for the patient themselves to go through the court proceedings to fight for their right to die whenever they choose. An example of this situation is Ian Shearer, a man who suffered from multiple conditions which had made it unbearable for him to make any kind of movements. Shearer was denied the assistance in death by the St. Pauls Hospital, a Catholic-run hospital, due to religious reasons and he was forced to transfer to another hospital despite the fact that he screamed in excruciating pain if he was touched or bumped as light as possible. (Blackwell, 2016) Although a physician wishes to not assist a patient for whatsoever reason they should at least point the patient to the right direction to help benefit the choice they make and pursue in when they get to die.
In the final analysis, medical assistance in dying should not be such a controversial topic here in Canada. All terminally ill persons in this country deserves the right on when they get to pass, they can go with dignity and not through their incurable diseases. Although it is a tough decision for medical professionals due to many factors, they should follow through with the desired treatment that a patient consents to because in the end it benefits the patient rather than prolonging their life through machines or medicines that most likely won’t benefit the patient but only make it for even more insufferable for them.
- Tom Blackwell (2016) B.C. man faced excruciating transfer after Catholic hospital refused assisted-death request. (2019). Retrieved 21 September 2019, from https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/b-c-man-faced-excruciating-transfer-after-catholic-hospital-refused-assisted-death-request
- BBC - Ethics - Euthanasia: Religion and euthanasia. (2019). Retrieved 21 September 2019, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/religion/religion.shtml
- Get the Facts: Bill C-14 and Assisted Dying Law in Canada. (2019). Retrieved 21 September 2019, from https://www.dyingwithdignity.ca/get_the_facts_assisted_dying_law_in_canada
- Greek Medicine - The Hippocratic Oath. (2019). Retrieved 21 September 2019, from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/greek/greek_oath.html
- R. v. Latimer - SCC Cases (Lexum). (2019). Retrieved 21 September 2019, from https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1836/index.do
- William C. Shiel Jr., F. (2019). Definition of Physician-assisted suicide. Retrieved 21 September 2019, from https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=32841
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