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Euthanasia, Rodriguez, and Canadian Law on Assisted Suicide Essay example

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Euthanasia, or assisted suicide, stands as one of the most important debates in contemporary moral philosophy. By definition, euthanasia is the act of intentionally killing or permitting the death of a hopelessly sick or injured individual, in a relatively painless way, for reasons of mercy. The controversy surrounding this unresolved issue seems to be fuelled by popular, albeit problematic, belief that while the passivity of permitting an individual to die is morally acceptable, the act of killing is not. While modern politics is not quick to support euthanasia on a moral or ethical level, many theorists are fascinated by the topic from a legal perspective. In the article "Assisted Suicide, Ethics and the Law", for example, Eike-Henner Kluge utilises the case of Sue Rodriguez to demonstrate the ethically ignorant and discriminatory position of Canadian law regarding assisted suicide.

Rodriguez’ 1993 claim to legal assisted suicide created what could be the most important and high profile court case to date regarding euthanasia in Canada. Ms. Rodriguez suffered from a rare form of ALS that would drastically shorten her life expectancy, and gradually rob her of the abilities to walk, move her body at will, and eat and breathe without mechanical assistance. Knowing that her mind would remain alert, yet trapped in the casing of an obsolete body, Rodriguez voluntarily decided to avoid such an unsatisfactory end, lacking in dignity, by requesting active physician-assisted suicide (euthanasia) in a manner of her own choosing, as she would be unable to end her own life at the moment she desired.

Rodriguez claimed that ending her life was her right, as any law does not prohibit it, and that it also included the right to assistance ...


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...stitutionalisation of discrimination is unacceptable, and thus we must support assistance of an otherwise-impossible suicide act in special cases.

Whether it is the general discomfort of considering the preferable circumstances of one’s own demise, or the concept of being willingly and intentionally killed, the euthanasia issue remains one that is, although important, uncomfortable at best. The questions remain, however, as to the circumstances under which euthanasia should be legalised: Are only persons with fatal diseases eligible? With psychological illnesses? Will age restrict who eligibility? Who will decide how much pain one must experience in order to be assisted in suicide? Until these and other answers are realised in social, religious and ethical contexts, euthanasia will continue to proliferate through international political and moral debate forums.


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