BY CARSON DESHEVY-RENOUF
The concept of assisted suicide has often been a frightening one. Giving people the right to die with the assistance of a physician has always been hotly debated. It is banned in more places than it is permitted, but after a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada it seems Canada might just be joining the minority.
According to a Feb. 6 article in the Waterloo Region Record, “the Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously struck down the ban on providing a doctor-assisted death to mentally competent but suffering and ‘irremediable’ patients.” This ruling officially reverses the ban that was put in place 21 years ago that clearly and absolutely prohibited assisted suicide. Canadian lawmakers are tasked with writing the actual legislation.
This decision, although not popular with everyone, is great, and the only reason that is the case is because we have now finally put the lives of the suffering and the frail in their own hands. The assumption is that suicide is the coward’s way out. Assisted suicide is, in turn, just a way of safely and legally being a coward. The reality of the situation, however, is in the fine print. Noting that patients will qualify for “doctor-assisted death” are to be “mentally competent but suffering and (/or) ‘irremediable,’” you must understand that the alternative is likely worse.
What some people struggle with is “why would someone want to do this?” Essentially, letting someone suffer when they would rather die is selfish. I’m not saying that everyone in pain or agony should opt for this, but I do believe that the option should be there. Having someone help you assess your options, and if it comes to it, release you of your suffering peacefully should have been available long before this. Because it wasn’t, many people have already flown to places like Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, because they consciously felt that that was the best option.
Those arguing for the removal of the ban think that it “unjustifiably (infringed) (Section 7) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” as was stated in a news release from the Supreme Court of Canada.
Although for many this will be an uneasy step, it is undoubtedly a step forward. Along with all of the other rights that Canadians get to share and enjoy throughout their lives, should they find themselves in an unbearable situation of pain and suffering they should also get to exercise a right to die.