For eligibility, a second doctor or practitioner must give

For many
years assisted suicide has been long debated in Canadian society. In 2016, one
of the most controversial bills was passed, Bill C-14, which made physician
assisted suicide officially legal in Canada. Many opinions quickly rose from
this decision, some in favor of Bill C-14 and some strongly disagreed.

            Up
until June 17, 2016 any form of assisted suicide was considered a criminal
offence. It was measured as a form of culpable homicide and was guilty of an
indictable offence with a maximum penalty of imprisonment not exceeding
fourteen years. Bill C-14 is currently endorsed in Canada and applies to
section 241 of the Criminal Code of Canada. This section states medical
assistance in dying is permitted with:

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the
administering by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner of a substance to
a person, at their request, that causes their death; or the prescribing or
providing by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner of a substance to a
person, at their request, so that they may self-administer the substance and in
doing so cause their own death (Criminal Code of Canada, 2016).

However medical assistance in dying
(MAID), is a long process. To be eligible for MAID the patient must “have a
serious and incurable illness, disease, or disability; Be in an advanced state
of irreversible decline in capability; Endure physical and psychological
suffering that is intolerable to them; and their natural death has become
reasonably foreseeable” (Dying With Dignity, 2015). They must also be at least
eighteen years of age. If the applicant has met all the requirements, they can
proceed to the next step. First, they are required to give a written request
with the attendance of witnesses. Once the patient’s doctor evaluates the
applicant and decides eligibility, a second doctor or practitioner must give a
second opinion. If both medical professionals agree, MAID will be granted.
Before MAID is provided it is necessary for a ten day lapse between the signed
and dated request in order for the person to reflect and the day permission is
granted. Two years before Bill C-14 was passed, Québec made physician
assisted suicide legal, which was a big influence on Bill C-14. Before assisted
suicide was legal there has been many cases involving MAID. One important case
in Canadian history was Rodriguez v. British Columbia (A.G), 1993. Sue
Rodriguez was diagnosed with Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and wanted to end
her life when her illness became too severe and she was no longer able to
assist herself. She declared that it was her constitutional right and that
section seven of the charter was being violated; however she lost her legal
battle and later completed suicide with the help of an unidentified doctor.
This case has also been a significant impact on Bill C-14.

            After
Bill C-14 was passed, some Canadian citizens were outraged. For many years
physician assisted suicide was considered “unethical”, those who oppose feel
the fundamental social value of respect for life should be maintained and
killing is viewed as intrinsically wrong. Particularly those who are religious
believe death is natural process and their fate is left in God’s hands. In
Rodriguez V. British Columbia, the Supreme Court of Canada stated that the main
purpose of S.241 (b) of the charter was to “protect life and those who are
vulnerable, and that the law is reflective of the fundamental values at play in
our society” (Supreme Court of Canada, 1993). When patients are diagnosed with
a serious illness, like Sue Rodriguez, they are placed in a vulnerable
situation. Undiagnosed cases of depression underlie requests for assisted
suicide, it is possible that a patient request could be done due to fear,
anxiety or depression and not because of his or her illness. Advances in
medicine are always developing every day, this means once incurable diseases
and disabilities could possibly be controlled, however if the patient is
granted MAID it would be immaterial. Many doctors against MAID argue that
assisting suicide is against the Hippocratic Oath doctors are required to take.
The oath states they must treat patients to the best of their abilities and to
heal, not harm. As a whole it is argued that physician assisted suicide sends
the message that some lives are not worthy of living. It shows hopelessness
rather than compassion and comfort to those who are most vulnerable in Canadian
society.

            After
Bill C-14 was passed there were not only those opposing of the bill but many
Canadians were also in favor of physician assisted suicide. This new bill allowed
those who were suffering a sense of comfort in knowing they had the option to
end the incurable pain they were once expected to endure. Those who seek
assisted suicide are suffering from an incurable illness or disability which
strips the patient’s quality of life. For example, Sue Rodriguez had ALS and
she was seeking help because in the near future her quality of life would be
diminished, she would not be able to do the simple things society takes for
granted, like blow our nose or take a sip of water. The point of MAID is to
assist patients like Sue, and not have to force them to go through so much pain
and anguish for the rest of their lives. In Rodriguez V. British Columbia,
Rodriguez defended it was her constitution right and violated section seven of
the charter, this section states that everyone has the right to life, liberty
and security. Terminally ill patients can defend that their illness or
disability, strips their quality of life, therefore assisted suicide is their
security.  Another argument is that it is
the patient’s decision to what they choose to do with their body, and that they
would get to die knowing it was their choice instead of dying in a shell of
their former selves; “For some, the choice to end one’s life with dignity is
infinitely preferable to the inevitable pain and the diminishment of a long,
slow decline” (Lamer, ND). Not only does it take an enormous weight off the
patient’s shoulders but also the friends and family closest to them. Family
members are now allowed to support their loved ones with their decisions to end
their life and are no longer forced to make end of life decisions without their
loved ones input. Furthermore, families are better prepared and able to accept
the loss of a family member and not have to witness them in an immense amount
of discomfort. Before physician assisted suicide was legal many patients were
committing suicide in horrifying and traumatic ways, but Bill C-14 now saves
the family and the patient an enormous amount pain and a traumatic experience. MAID
expands the patient’s options as to what the next step they may choose to take
after being diagnosed, other than palliative care there is no other option.
Although palliative care is very important, some feel it is just not enough,
there is only so much society can do to help these patients other than comfort
them to the best of our abilities.

            In
conclusion, physician assisted suicide has been a controversial topic
throughout history and will continue to be debated among Canadian society. In
my opinion I think physician assisted suicide is a significant step towards
human rights in Canada. I believe this bill is an asset to Canadian society
because it addresses the basic human rights that are set out in the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms. According to a 2014 Ipsos Reid opinion poll eighty four
per cent of Canadians believe patients with incurable illnesses, diseases or disabilities
should have the right to seek medical assistance to end their lives. The fact
that eighty four percent of Canadians wanted this law to be introduced before
it was even brought forth, suggests that our political system may be out of touch
with its citizens. Forcing Canadians to experience a lifelong of unbearable,
excruciating pain is cruel, this is why Bill C-14 is necessary in Canadian
society.

Death has no boundaries and doesn’t discriminate
and therefore neither should a person choice.