Euthanasia, suicide. Although there has been a recent uprising

Euthanasia, or assisted suicide, stands as one of the most controversial debates in
Canadian Law. Many argue that the act itself is an unjust and immoral means of relief and that
the laws placed by the Canadian government fail to sufficiently acknowledge the issue at large.
However, one can palpably argue that the current laws placed by the Canadian government
ethically considers the safety and rights of both the patients and physicians. Canadian regulations
regarding euthanasia, specifically the Canadian Criminal Code and the Hypocrite Oath, as well
as many others, have been revised to suitably absolve patients and medical practitioners from the
illegality of assisted suicide.
Although there has been a recent uprising with regards to controversial opinions about
euthanasia, the issue has been under strict scrutiny for decades. Prior to the 20th century, suicide
of any kind was seen as a criminal offense. However, this changed with the decriminalization of
suicide in 1972 (Kellner 1). Following the court’s decision to declare personal suicide lawful,
many were quick to argue that assisted suicide should also be decriminalized. Sue Rodriguez was
the first person to advocate for the right to be euthanized against the court of Canada. She was
the first Canadian to shine a spotlight on the debate of euthanasia after being diagnosed with
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS, in 1991 (Fenton 1). Miss Rodriquez embarked
in a legal battle against the Supreme Court of Canada to advocate for the right to be euthanized
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on the grounds that section 241(b) of the Criminal Code, which prohibited assisted suicide,
violated sections 7, 12, and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Beaudoin 1).
While the Supreme Courts ultimately denied Sue’s application, reasoning that the Criminal Code
did not violate the Charter (Bereza 719), the case sparked a significant alteration in Canadian
society, the most compelling being the debate of Bill C-385.
Since late 1900’s, euthanasia and medically assisted suicide has been a widely
controversial and advocated for issue. From its initial legality battle with Sue Rodriguez in 1991,
assisted suicide in Canada has become one of the largest and widely talked about topics. Nearly
four decades later, in 2016, euthanasia had officially been legalized. On June 17, 2016, the
Parliament of Canada received the Royal Assent for Bill C-14, transforming assisted suicide into
an action defined as ‘lawful’ in the Criminal Code (Wilson-Raybould 1). Despite the passing of
Bill C-14, the members of Parliament included numerous safeguards and restrictions to the law,
stating that the assisted act was only to be considered legal when all of the required steps were
met. The most significant restriction of Bill C-14 was that, in order for the patient to be lawfully
euthanized, they must “have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability,” their health
must be in an “advanced state of irreversible decline in capability,” and their death must be
“reasonably foreseeable” (Global News 1). In addition to the safeguards set into place, certain
procedures and limitations were outlined in the Bill, such as the requirement for a physiological
evaluation, a necessary written consent form, and a waiting period in which the patient can
withdraw their request at any time. Many say that the safeguards are too lenient and forbearing,
while others claim they are too restrictive. Nonetheless, patients nation-wide are pleased with the
newly declared right to ‘die with dignity’.
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As a result of Bill C-14 becoming legislation, revisions have been made to pre-existing
laws in the Canadian Government to excuse the actions of assisted suicide. Before the
legalization of euthanasia in Canada assisted suicide was outlined in the Criminal Code of
Canada as a criminal offense. Particularly with regards to section 14 of the Criminal Code of
Canada. Section 14 previously stated, “No person is entitled to consent to have death inflicted on
them, and such consent does not affect the criminal responsibility of any person who inflicts
death on the person who gave consent.” However, this section was amended to include
“exemption for medical assistance in dying” after section 226 (Statutes of Canada 3). In addition,
section 227 of the Criminal Code now states, “No medical practitioner or nurse practitioner
commits culpable homicide if they provide a person with medical assistance in dying in
accordance with section 241.2” (Statues of Canada 4). Numerous additional revisions have been
made in order to exempt medical practitioners who are assisting suicide lawfully and
restrictively. These alterations have occurred to act in the patient’s and medical practitioner’s best
interests and to guarantee safety and righteousness with regards to euthanasia.
A crucial factor in becoming a medical practitioner, of any kind, is too ensure that
procedures and substances will be done in the patients best interests. When pursuing a career in
the medical field, one must swear to and abide by the Hippocratic Oath. This oath requires a
medical practitioner to uphold ethical standards within the profession, or are otherwise held
accountable for their unlawful actions. The oath serves to ensure the safety of patients, and the
true intention of practitioners. However, with the legalization of euthanasia, the oath has been
amended to absolve the actions that pertain to assisted suicide, as long as the procedure is done
ethically and legally. A segment of the Hippocratic Oath demands practitioners to vow not administer a lethal narcotic to anyone, even if the patient requests it, nor are they to advise such a
plan (ProCon 1). However, following the legalization of euthanasia and the revision of the
Criminal Code, medical practitioners of Canada came to the conclusion to amend sections of the
oath to absolve physicians of their responsibility to preserve life in the cases of assisted suicide.
While few doctors fail to abide by the revised conditions of the oath, many medical professionals
have sworn upon the amended Hippocratic oath, to protect their profession and honor patients
legal right to ‘die with dignity.’
Medically assisted suicide has been a controversial issue since the 20th century. While
many argue that the act is unjust and immoral, as of 2016, the government of Canada has
euthanasia legal on the grounds that patients have the right to die with dignity and on their own
terms. Along with the passing of this legislation, the Canadian Government has also does an
accession job in ensuring that the laws and regulations adequately represent this social issue as
best as possible. To conclude, the current laws placed to absolve and protect physicians and
patients are ultimately just, and the government handled the issue effectively. 


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