Most countries over the world have witnessed several constitutional amendments with the aim of ensuring the constitution is in line with the current demands of humanity. For instance, the changing times call for the elimination of awkward provisions and laws which are against the rights and privileges of citizens. On the same note, several nations have incorporated human rights and sanctity of life in the constitution in the bid to protect and uphold the rights of citizens. Similarly, increased murder and suicide cases have created the need for countries to review the constitutional provisions regarding euthanasia. Furthermore, the court rulings on the cases concerning physician-assisted deaths render the idea of voluntary euthanasia subject to debate. Some states have legalized active, voluntary euthanasia due to a rise in the need for the service amongst the mentally competent adults. On the other hand, the legalization of assisted suicide creates loopholes in the law, thus questioning the quality and sanctity of life. Therefore, there is a need for the judiciary and the executive to team up and establish bills that provide a lasting solution to the issue. This paper examines the concept of active, voluntary euthanasia by analyzing the case Carter v. Canada. Additionally, the paper emphasizes that active, voluntary euthanasia should be decriminalized in some cases because it offers respite to the old or morbid individuals.
The Idea of Active, Voluntary Euthanasia
Active, voluntary euthanasia should be decriminalized since the legalization of physician-assisted deaths is a step towards the minimization of suicide and intended murder in society. For instance, most elderly people with terminal illnesses prefer dying rather than being bedridden and in pain for the rest of their life. As a result, a person diagnosed with the non-curable disease may prefer ending her life in a crude manner since a more effective way is considered against the law.
For instance, the theory of paternalism provides for the interference of an individuals’ will if for the purpose of influencing their state positively. In this case, human beings should be allowed to exercise control over their lives since the interference does not provide a lasting solution to the victim. Moreover, soft paternalism allows a person to proceed with his intentions upon establishing that the subject is of sound mind. Bearing in mind these reasons, the judges had to drop the charges against Everlyn Martens, who had been charged with assisting and counseling suicide. It is evident that there are no criminal counts if a physician is requested to carry out an active, voluntary euthanasia. Similarly, the judges in this case established that there are no clear provisions regarding physician-assisted deaths and, thus, the practice is ethical if it is done with respect to the will of a competent adult suffering from a lifetime illness. For the same reasons, the judge’s decision was not subject to that made by the Supreme Court.
Similarly, decriminalization of assisted suicide for the mentally competent adults reduces psychological torture amongst families with members suffering from non-curable diseases. Human beings desire to maintain good health and remain productive throughout. Hence, the diagnosis of an unmanageable illness disturbs an individual leading to mental torture. For instance, the patient feels humiliated by the fact that there are no chances of recovering and death awaits him. In such cases, most of them, being aged, chose to end their lives as opposed to fighting all along with the disease. Equally, the patients’ family experience varied emotions due to the imagination of the pain and suffering that one of them is going through. Instead of being held captive by the state of their family member, it is good for an active voluntary euthanasia to be performed to enable the victim rest in peace and free the other members to carry on with their activities. Through that, moral paternalism seeks to defend the moral welfare of individuals and, therefore, if the act is morally justified, then it is worth. The judge considered values such as compassion and choice at the end of life while making the final ruling on the case. The values aim at granting patients the peace of mind by guaranteeing them a right to ask for a peaceful death should the condition worsen. Similarly, the judge evaluated the position of the patients and their right to accept or refuse to undergo treatment since it is not the duty of the constitution to determine natural deaths.
Likewise, the principle of autonomy provides that a person has to evaluate his life and decide without interference from others. Additionally, it argues that the decision made after self-evaluation should be respected by all. The presiding judges found legal grounds in the act and based their ruling on the idea that most of the people end their lives prematurely because of the fear of causing psychological turmoil to the family when their condition worsens and the suffering becomes unbearable. In the view of this, assisted suicide for the competent adults should be legalized to enable individuals with such conditions die at the right time. In support of the practice, the reasoning of the judges was tied to the fact that regulation is not criminalization. For that reason, the judges provided that it is not right to subject a person to tragic death while there is an alternative.
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On the same note, active, voluntary euthanasia enables competent adults to enjoy their rights and freedoms as stipulated by the constitution. The constitution bestows the right to request assistance to end life in the elderly who are in a poor state of health. In such circumstances, the victim saved from the pain and wastage of resources that could have been spent while waiting for natural death. Additionally, the facilities can be used by other people whose condition can be changed for the better. It is observed that people suffering from a terminal illness have no chance of improving their state. As a result, the court established that it was the right time for change and allowed the elderly people with terminal illness to choose when to die.
Furthermore, moral welfare paternalism pays attention to both the physical and psychological condition of the subject. Hence, it is important to evaluate the welfare of both the patient and the family before deciding whether to interfere with a person’s intention or not. Likewise, the constitution provides the freedom of expression and self-realization that allow individuals to express their opinion and will. Consequently, the judges argued that every right and freedom should be enjoyed by the citizens, regardless of their condition. The jury further directed that there are qualified medical practitioners who can be consulted in case the need for an assisted death arises. In the light of that, prohibition of voluntary euthanasia violates the right and freedom of the elderly people.
Prohibition of active, voluntary euthanasia infringes the right to life and the sanctity of life. The fear of people to end up in intolerable suffering and landing those who may assist them end their lives peacefully in jail compels the victims to terminate their lives through unfair means. Equally, criminalization of the physician-assisted death leads to an increase in the non-voluntary euthanasia. In some cases, the patients’ kinsmen may decide to end the life of one of them due to the lack of resources to keep the patient on medication or for the fear that the person will suffer a lot. For instance, decriminalization of the process minimizes incidents of passive voluntary euthanasia as well as non-voluntary euthanasia. Furthermore, most of the witnesses in the case argued that their loved ones choose to end their lives earlier since the law does not allow them to do so at the time of their wish. For example, the ruling of the jury to acquit charges imposed on Stephan Dufour for having assisted his uncle to kill himself was based on the fact that the uncle had several attempts to commit suicide, and without Stephan’s assistance, he still could have committed suicide. It was in the light of the witness and the choice at the end of life that the judge ruled in favor of decriminalization of active, voluntary euthanasia. Therefore, the need for legalization of assisted death is necessary. In the case at hand, the judge established that denying the citizens the right to access a physician’s assist when one wants to terminate life deprives some peoples’ right to life. Likewise, the prohibition compromises the sanctity of life.
Some nations have legalized active, voluntary euthanasia and it is important that other states follow suit. Citizens are the backbone of the nation and, therefore, they should be granted their needs and demands without fear or favor. For instance, people move out of the country in search of the services in nations that have legalized active, voluntary euthanasia. The message from Donald Low expressing frustrations for not being allowed to exercise total control over his life and the republic, not respecting the fundamentality of his decision when he feels all is over has to be accorded the seriousness it deserves and form the foundation of future constitutional review. In addition, he expresses his envy to the nations that legalized active, voluntary euthanasia. The principles behind the establishment of human rights sought to ensure that the opinions and decisions of individuals are respected addressed. On the contrary, prohibition of the process deprives citizens of the right to decide on their lives. On the same note, the trial judges had to revisit the Court’s initial decision concerning Rodriguez by analyzing the circumstances under which they had to arrange an assisted dying. It is important for the state of the patient to be analyzed before determining whether a physician’s assistance in terminating their life is required.
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Criticisms and Objections
On the other hand, critics of the idea that active, voluntary euthanasia should be decriminalized argue that legalization of the process limits the citizens’ right to life. They further provide that the country will witness widespread physician-assisted deaths and, hence, passive non-voluntary euthanasia. For instance, the theory of soft paternalism states that efforts should be made to ensure that a person understands the effects of his decision before letting him execute it. Similarly, the practice should only be performed on adults who have mental competence. It should not be confused with non-voluntary euthanasia. Looking at the case in which Raymond Kirk was found guilty and charged with assisting suicide, the ruling was passed after establishing that though his wife was in tremendous pain, she was not terminally ill and her state was not diagnosed. Such loopholes are done away through the establishment of procedures that help the practitioners to determine the condition of the patient as well as their opinion before assisting in the death. Furthermore, the fear that if the act is allowed will deny some people the right to life can be dealt with by the fact that the judge admitted that the country had qualified personnel who can oversee the assisted dying effectively.
Likewise, the argument that no human being has the right to end or influence opposes the practice. Additionally, decriminalization of active, voluntary euthanasia compromises the culture of the people. Hence, the law of the land must favor the culture and protect the life of the citizens. Despite the cultural provision, it is evident that people engage in the practice, hence, there is no need of infringing human rights on grounds of fostering the culture of the nation. Moreover, it is evident that with the criminalization of the practice, a lot of people are involved in the act. According to the principles of sanctity and quality of life, life has to be protected at all costs. As a result, people should be encouraged to pursue their lives until natural death occurs. On the same note, incidences of premature termination of life have to be minimized through the legalization of the active, voluntary euthanasia. As seen in the ruling delivered by the judge, the prohibition of the process infringes on the peoples’ right to life and human rights. Life has to be valued and, hence, making patients decisional vulnerability must be determined to control the spread of assisted deaths in the country. Through that scrutiny, it is possible to identify vulnerable individuals.
The desire to foster human rights and the right to life can be achieved through decriminalization of assisted suicide for the mentally competent adults. For instance, legalization of the process is seen to improve the nation’s capability to protect its citizens and uphold their rights and freedoms. Through the examination, it is evident that the country’s economy develops rapidly due to availability of resources that could have been wasted on the less productive individuals. Similarly, the family of the victims gets time to focus on development as opposed to nursing persons whose conditions are beyond control. The philosophical principles and theories are aimed at creating awareness to the people about the importance of individuals’ rights and decisions. Moreover, analysis of the case involving Carter and Canada provides an insight of the legal proceedings and the judges’ position concerning active, voluntary euthanasia. As a result, it is necessary for the nation to review the legal provisions and the constitution in order to establish laws that favor the needs and growing demands of the citizens. Additionally, the harm principle provides that whenever laws are proposed limiting the freedoms and rights of the people, they have to go for different ways of getting liberty. The principle is applied by the people with the aim of satisfying their desires. Therefore, instead of seeking their own ways of liberty, the state should act by legalizing the assistance of physicians upon individual requests.
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