Euthanasia can be voluntary (conducted with the informed consent of the patient), non-voluntary (when it is not possible to get the patient’s consent, for example when the patient is an infant), or involuntary (against the patient’s will).Non-voluntary euthanasia is illegal in most countries and involuntary euthanasia is regarded as murder in all countries.PAS is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and four U. This perception might be based on the loss of autonomy and resulting absolute dependency on others that people with chronic illnesses feel.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, turned down her challenge.
In 1994, Rodriguez took her own life with the assistance of an anonymous physician.
But what is the position of other principal actors who have a responsibility or practical interest in the outcome of laws like Bill 52?
Are we prepared for a looming Supreme Court decision that could knock down existing legal prohibitions on assisted suicide?
In Quebec, despite popular support, hundreds of physicians have signed a declaration against Bill 52. Section 241 of the Criminal Code states: “Everyone who (a) counsels a person to commit suicide, or (b) aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.” The courts have intervened in PAS in three important cases. Canada, or the “Death with Dignity” case, which comes before the Supreme Court of Canada again this month, is by far the most important.
In January 2010, Lee Carter and her husband, both residents of British Columbia, accompanied Lee’s 89-year-old mother, Kathleen Carter, to Switzerland where she planned on ending her life with physician assistance. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) in challenging Canada’s ban on PAS.And how is this debate distracting from the fundamental absence of adequate end-of-life care in Canada?The stakes are too high to let events overcome us without being prepared.The doctors appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada but were unsuccessful.Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley Mc Lachlin wrote: “While the end-of-life context poses difficult ethical dilemmas for physicians, this does not alter the conclusion that withdrawal of life support constitutes treatment requiring consent under the HCCA.” The court’s ruling applies only in Ontario.And after the passage of the Quebec law this summer, Justice Minister Peter Mac Kay said it is “not our intention to reopen the debate.” A month before the October 2013 ministerial, a majority of representatives to the annual Canadian Medical Association (CMA) conference defeated a motion urging all levels of government to conduct public consultations on whether PAS could be accepted as a justifiable end-of-life-care procedure.With this defeat, CMA is left with its 2007 policy that discourages doctors from participating in PAS or euthanasia, emphasizing that it is up to society at large to change the laws with respect to assisted suicide.The final case is that of Hassan Rasouli, a 61-year-old retired engineer on life support at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital since 2010 after surgery for the removal of his benign brain tumour went wrong, causing bacterial meningitis.When intensive care unit physicians gave Rasouli little chance of a meaningful recovery, his attending physicians, doctors Brian Cuthbertson and Gordon Rubenfeld, proposed to unilaterally withdraw his life support, claiming that discontinuing care did not constitute “treatment” as defined by Ontario’s law, and therefore the withdrawal of life-sustaining measures required neither the consent of the patient (or surrogate decision-maker) nor the permission of the Ontario Consent and Capacity Board.The long smouldering debate on physician-assisted suicide (PAS) flared up early this summer when on June 5 the Quebec National Assembly passed Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care.The legislation gives patients in some situations the possibility of requesting medical aid in dying, widely considered a euphemism for euthanasia.