Friday, February 6, 2015

Today, My Country Legalized Assisted Suicide

This morning, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously (9-0) struck down the country's laws against encouraging or assisting in suicide. While the current laws will remain in effect for one year so that the 2015 Election winners can have a chance to draft new legislation, or alternatively decide to use the notwithstanding clause to overrule the courts (this is unlikely), the bottom line is this: according to the top court in the country, it's now considered a right to have your doctor kill you.

Canada is filled with an activist group of rights-loving zealots who, through their own law-making mission to enforce absolute equality, tend to steamroll over a lot of good people who don't want to violate their own values or common sense in service to each new status quo. So it's not enough for my country to just legalize certain kinds of civil unions -- we have to make other people violate their own consciences to perform them. We can't just grant a woman the right to kill her unborn child (just a note, my country doesn't have any laws on abortion at all, and in 2011 used this as a rationale to let a 19-year old woman off the hook for strangling her newborn child to death with a pair of thong underwear) -- we have to prevent a physician from counselling a woman against having an abortion for fear of losing her license and her employment. So what happens when it becomes your right to have your doctor kill you? In every major social "advance" to come along in the last few years, protecting one person's rights has always resulted in violating someone else's. How long will it be until a doctor must, legally, be required to murder their patients at their own request?

The decision itself is incredibly full of holes. The Supreme Court has ruled that in order for a request to terminate one's life to be valid, the patient must be a "competent" adult who suffers from a "grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease, or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual". According to the Winnipeg Free Press, the suffering can be "either physical or psychological". Besides the fact that life is precious and we shouldn't be institutionalizing death on any level, one other major problem is that nearly all of these words are incredibly broad and can mean almost anything legally. The medical conditions can apparently include illnesses, disease, or disability. But they might not be limited to those things. Likewise, an illness, disease, or disability can be virtually anything. The common cold is an illness. If it won't go away and causes you psychological suffering (which is an incredibly broad definition), apparently you can force your doctor to kill you for it.

Understandably, not everyone is that excited about the decision and recognizes that it could lead to a lot of premature, hasty deaths:
"Christian Debray, from the organization Not Dead Yet, said he may have been compelled to make a rash decision when he was suffering, had assisted suicide been available then. 'I’m very disappointed,' he said. 'This decision endangers the lives of lots of Canadians.'" -WFP

As anyone who has ever attempted to commit suicide knows, there are times when -due to psychological suffering- it can seem like death is the only way out. But imagine if death was a right. Imagine if instead of sending you to see a counselor dedicated to saving your life and helping you work through your issues, your doctor was required to keep his mouth closed, send you to an assessor to determine whether you meet the extremely lenient terms required to end your life, and then put you to death shortly afterwards to fulfill the requirements of the state?

For some reason, our culture is hyper-focused on individual rights right now. As opposed to collective rights that enable a whole country full of happy people to live harmoniously and productively, with some trade-offs from each individual in order to make the whole work, our culture is instead cracking down on groups of people to push for individual deals that enable each of us to get our way regardless of how those individual rights affect our society. People's values have been compromised so that others' preferences can win the day. Ultimately, that's not a sustainable thing. Death is a tragedy, and no one has a right to legalized death; they have a choice (though unfortunate) to end their lives on their own. It's horrific to institutionalize that and to build in requirements that make death, not God-given life, prized in civilized Canada.

Signing out,
-Sean Rice.

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