Panel calls for legalization of assisted suicide
Globe and Mail Update
Published Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 9:00AM EST | Ravaged by cancer, or stricken with pain, you want to die. You have your wits about you, and the facts in front of you. Your doctor should be allowed to help you end your life, an expert panel of researchers in Canada has recommended – and the Criminal Code should not call it murder.
Pointing to the widening gap between public opinion and the law that makes euthanasia illegal in this country, a team of researchers appointed by the Royal Society of Canada to study end-of-life care says that informed Canadians should have the right to choose death within a regulated system, even if they have not been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
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Added Note (Choice in Dying)
The Royal Society of Canada Report is available in PDF format here. This includes the Main Messages, an Executive Summary, the Report in Brief, the Full Report, the Press Release, the Terms of Reference, and an audio of the Press Conference. All well worthwhile reading (or listening to). The report is thoughtful, methodical, and deliberately focused on the Canadian situation, and what seems to be possible, given Canadian priorities in the discussion of public issues. The recommendations are thorough, but do include the decriminalisation of assisted suicide, and the legalisation of active voluntary euthanasia. The report considers at some length the distinct between the moral right to assisted dying, which comprises a “prima facie case for the desirability of establishing a legal right.” (13, Report in Brief) The report also concludes, importantly, that
Prophesied undesirable consequences are not sufficient to negate the right to choose assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. Rahter, they should be taken into account in constructing the regulatory environment within which this right can be exercised.
This is a vitally important, since it is a response to the claim that legalising assisted dying will create slippery slopes that will endager vulnerable people. Despite the fact that in jurisdictions where assisted dying has been legalised such risk to the vulnerable has not been demonstrated, it is surely not up to the suffering to make sure that vulnerable persons are not targetted by laws not intended for them; this must be part of “the regulatory environment” as the report states.