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The Euthanasia debate in the health care system

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  1. Introduction
  2. The idea of autonomy
  3. The issue of Euthanasia
  4. Problems associated with the sanctity of life argument
  5. The public debate over Euthanasia
  6. The Golden Rule Argument
  7. Conclusion
  8. Bibliography

This debate over the right to die has long been a contentious one, with the focus being on the right that a patient has to control their own body. The question that arises is whether or not life should be preserved at all costs. With regard to this question, there are two polarized opinions; one states that life should be preserved at all costs since life is sacred; while the other claims that the patient should have autonomy over decisions that affect their own body. The former is a viewpoint typically held by Christian theologians and Jewish thinkers, while the latter is more in line with prevalent liberal thinking. When euthanasia is referred to as death with dignity, liberals are referring to the timing of death, meaning that people should be able to choose the best time for their own passage, and the way in which death occurs, meaning that they should be able to control the process of dying.

The idea of autonomy refers to people's ability to make decisions for themselves based on their own beliefs and actions. However, for one to be able to have autonomy over their own body, they need to be given the option, and this is why the law needs to allow for physician assisted suicide and euthanasia.

[...] Understandably the courts play a significant role in creating policy, and euthanasia should be no exception. As the issue becomes more prevalent in the public domain and as people demand more from the state, this issue might be revisited in the future.[16] This essay has shown that the debate over the right is a contentious one. With regard to this question, there are two polarized opinions, and they are unlikely to ever come together. However it has been shown that the sanctity of life argument does not have a moral ground to stand on, and euthanasia should be allowed as it is in line with the liberal notion of autonomy. [...]

[...] Clearly physician assisted suicide and euthanasia is the moral avenue to take.[7] Within the public debate over euthanasia, there have been few cases in Canada that brought the matter to the forefront more than the case of Robert Latimer and his daughter Tracy. In 1993 Robert Latimer attached a hose to the exhaust pipe of his truck and gassed his severely disabled daughter to death. He was accused of second degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1994. This is a highly contentious case especially due to the way in which euthanasia was administered, but it speaks to the broader issue of euthanasia and when it is acceptable. [...]

[...] A superior court judge in Quebec came to the conclusion that such refusal of treatment was permissible, so the women's respirator was removed.[12] Since then, as laws have changed from their traditional roots in religion, certain types of euthanasia have become acceptable, while there are still restrictions on others. Generally, the law seeks to create a distinction between passive euthanasia (typically associated with letting a person to die) and active euthanasia (typically associated with actually killing a person). Active, or physician assisted suicide remains illegal in Canada as the courts have not acted to allow it as of yet.[13] Laws in Canada preserve the distinction between passive and active euthanasia. [...]

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