Euthanasia

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Euthanasia

Euthanasia continues to be an extremely controversial issue in society, and there are many opposing viewpoints concerning this specific subject. The case of Sue Rodriguez versus the province of British Columbia, is one that demonstrates the high degree of debate over such a sensitive topic, as euthanasia. The following is an analytical examination of the case at hand, and a critical comparison of it, to the theories of Patrick Nowell-Smith. When relating the theories of Patrick Nowell -Smith to the case of Sue Rodriguez, it is evident that he would not agree with the judge’s final decision.
Firstly, it is necessary to discuss some of the relevant and significant points of the case. Sue Rodriguez is a mother in her forties, suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Her life expectancy is several months, however her condition is deteriorating quickly. Soon, she will no longer be able to swallow, speak, walk or move, and she will require a respirator in order to breath. She will be bedridden. Sue Rodriguez is aware of her situation and knows that death is inevitable, however, she wishes to control her circumstances, and her time and manner of death. By the time Sue is no longer able to enjoy life, she will be physically unable to terminate her life with out assistance. Sue is not requesting that her death be caused by active euthanasia, which would be by means of a doctor physically ending her life with some form of injection. She is asking that a qualified medical physician set up a certain technological system that would allow her, if she chose to, end her life with her own hand. This is passive euthanasia, as it allows the victim herself to control the time and manner of her own death. The Criminal Code includes a section regarding the idea of suicide that the judge lays before her in an attempt to defy her wishes. Section 241 states that “Every one who counsels a person to commit suicide or aids or abets someone to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.” (Koggel, 5). Sue rebuts this argument be stating that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms entails that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principals of fundamental justice.” (Koggel, 5). Therefore if everyone has the right to life, than one must also be able to control his own life. Sue also says that by prohibiting her to end her own life, she is being deprived of both her liberty and her security.
There are several parallels of Sue Rodriguez’s arguments and the views of Patrick Nowell-Smith. When exploring these similarities, it is clear and manifest that they hold similar views about euthanasia, despite the fact that it might be for different reasons. Due to the fact that they agree that euthanasia should be allowed in certain cases, it is apparent that Nowell-Smith would disagree with the judge’s decision to deny Sue of her plea. Nowell- Smith states that we, as society, have the right to do anything we like providing that there are no good reasons for prohibiting what we do. Sue states that because the Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that everyone deserves equal rights to life, liberty and security, that she should be able to make her own decisions regarding her life, providing that it is not threatening or having a detrimental effect on anyone else except herself. The type of euthanasia that Sue is requesting is both passive and voluntary, meaning that she has requested and consented to the decision for her to end her life. She is not asking that someone kill her, she is requesting that she would have the option to kill herself, and that nobody would prevent that. On the same scale, Nowell-Smith labels the right to life, a negative right, in that one’s right to life does impose on someone else the duty to not kill with out consent, but it also imposes no duty to keep one person alive. He states, similarly, that the

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