Thoughts on Doctor Assisted Suicide

If anyone killed a healthy person, they would be called a murderer. If a non-doctor killed an unhealthy person, they would also be called a murderer. There are cases where citizens have been convicted of killing their handicapped family members: the Latimer case. Finally, if someone helped someone kill another person, they would be an accessory to murder. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states: “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.” (Equality Rights, 15, 1) So, according to law, when a doctor and a citizen agree to take that citizen’s life, they both should be considered murderers; the doctor because they killed the person, and the person because they agreed, so an accessory to murder, (their own).  The classic Hippocratic Oath states: I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.” The modern version of the Oath also states: “Above all, I must not play at God.” In light of these statements, why is it that doctors are now allowed to “play God” and administer deadly drugs?
In school, we are taught that democracy is important. We’re taught that there are five pillars that help form democracy: Wirth and Equality, Rule of Law, Government Responsibility and Citizen responsibility. According to the first pillar of liberalism and the Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms, everyone has worth and equality.  Yet laws on doctor-assisted suicide seek to change this.
Rule of law is also related as, if the law were to be passed, doctors would be given the right to kill people. The fact that they have a chronic, painful disease doesn’t change their humanity under the law. This law would be judging doctors differently than the rest of the populace and the rule of law would be no more. Citizen’s responsibility is addressed as it relates to all citizens. It is all citizen’s responsibility to speak their opinion on this matter.
Classical liberal thinkers John Locke and John Stuart mill both agree that it is the government’s first responsibility to protect the people, especially those who can’t protect themselves. Yet, once again, the striking of the law changes the foundational ideas of liberalism. Even modern liberalism relies on government protection. So with the pillar of Worth and Equality disregarded, the Rule of Law pillar smashed, and the pillar of Government Responsibility under renovations, how will democracy or liberalism stand?
Regardless of whether I consider the law to be “right” or “wrong”, I feel that the act of striking down the law is totally opposite of our current laws and what our country stands for. Canada claims to be a country of equality and freedom; we are the mosaic country. Canada claims to value human life; that is we have health care and don’t go killing all who oppose us. But the striking of the old law brings me to question all this. Does all life really have value and equality under the laws of Canada?


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