Would you want to continue to live in this state indefinitely, or simply end your life peacefully and on your own terms?
The Canadian government has been scrambling to come up with legislation on Bill C-14, as the deadline of June 6 has already passed to have laws in place.
Doctors and patients alike need to know what the laws are regarding physician assisted suicide.
Bill C-14 reads, in part, as follows:
“A person may receive medical assistance in dying only if they meet all of the following criteria:
a) They are eligible for health services funded by a government in Canada
b) They are at least 18 years of age and capable of making decisions with respect to their health
c) They have a grievous and irremediable medical condition
d) They have made a voluntary request for medical assistance in dying that, in particular, was not made as a result of external pressure: and
e) They give informed consent to receive medical assistance in dying.”
In addition, “A person has a grievous and irremediable medical condition if:
a) They have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability
b) They are in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability.”
Before a physician can assist someone in their death, they must be of the opinion that the person meets all of the above criteria.
This bill would protect people from being encouraged to die in a “moment of weakness.”
It would include a mandatory 15-day “reflection period” so people don’t make an unwise decision after a serious diagnosis. Most importantly, it would allow doctors to provide assistance without the fear of criminal charges.
One of the more contentious issues still being discussed surrounds people with psychiatric disorders.
As someone with bipolar disorder, I have had many times in my life in which I wanted to end it all. If this legislation was in place at that time in my life, and I could have found a sympathetic doctor, I wouldn’t be writing about this today.
We are on a slippery slope when we allow someone else to assist us with our own death rather than letting nature take its course naturally.
Some of the Pros to this debate are:
1. The patients’ tremendous amount of pain and suffering will end.
2. The patients die knowing it was their choice.
3. The patients can die with dignity rather than a shell of their former selves.
4. Healthcare costs can be reduced
5. Vital organs can be used to save other patients.
6. Without physician assistance people may commit suicide in messy, horrifying or traumatic ways.
Some of the Cons to this argument are as follows:
1. It would violate the doctor’s Hippocratic oath.
2. It decreases the value of human life.
3. It opens the door to non-critical patient suicides and other abuses.
4. Doctors and families may give up on recovery too early.
5. Doctors would be given too much power.
Physician assisted suicide is not a matter to be taken lightly.
At some point in our lives it may be an issue that affects all of us.
Which side are you on in this debate?