Target: Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin of the Canadian Supreme Court
Goal: Support the legalization of medically assisted suicide for the terminally ill.
A 1993 total suicide ban was recently overturned by the Canadian Supreme Court, allowing patients the right to stop their suffering when it becomes too great. Assisted suicide grants those with incurable, painful diseases to die with dignity instead of forcing them to suffer until the very end.
The court ruled that the ban impinged on the rights of Canadian citizens and was overturned unanimously. The government must rewrite the law in the next year or it will be scrapped altogether. The case was brought to the court on behalf of two patients, both of whom suffered degenerative diseases. Both patients have since died, one traveling all the way to Switzerland to end her life on her terms, since she was not capable herself. Under Canadian law, aiding, abetting or counseling in a suicide is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
The justices ruled that adults suffering incurable—though not necessarily terminal—diseases that cause “enduring and intolerable suffering” may benefit from medically assisted death. A complete suicide ban, the justices argued, can push some patients to commit suicide prematurely, afraid that by the time their suffering is too great, they will no longer be capable of taking their own life.
The only person truly capable of judging a patient’s level of suffering is the patient himself. Without legally assisted suicide, many whose suffering is greatest, but who are unable to take their own lives, face a choice between intolerable suffering until the end and seeking illegal assistance, which could put their loved ones at risk of criminal justice.
Support this progressive move, which allows patients the dignity they deserve.
Dear Justice McLachlin,
Without legally assisted suicide, many people suffering from incurable diseases are left without dignity and in pain. It is the right of every person nearing the end of life to choose the manner in which they leave this world. Total suicide bans may cause some to take their lives early for fear they won’t be capable when the time comes, let patients suffer unnecessarily and criminalize the care of loved ones.
Thanks to the overturning of Canada’s total ban on suicide, patients can have a modicum of control over their deaths. I applaud and support the lifting of Canada’s suicide ban.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Dan Cox via Flickr