The right to die is as sacred as the right to live

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Tyson Burger
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

In June 2016, medically assisted death, which is the act of dying with the aid of a medical practitioner, was legalized in Canada. We have just passed the two-year mark of implementing that law, yet some still strongly oppose it.

Tyson Burger
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

In June 2016, medically assisted death, which is the act of dying with the aid of a medical practitioner, was legalized in Canada. We have just passed the two-year mark of implementing that law, yet some still strongly oppose it.
Citizens of a democratic society should have complete autonomy over their actions, as long as they don’t intentionally harm other people. Every major decision in a
person’s lifetime should be made by the individual who bears its consequences. In a country that values freedom and individuality, a person’s right to death should be as sacred as their right to life.
Groups against medically assisted death tend to think decriminalizing it is a slippery slope leading to a society “where the vulnerable are threatened and premature death becomes a cheap alternative to palliative care,” according to an article in The Economist. However, the essential purpose of legalizing medically assisted death is to give people authority over their own lives. If we want to talk about slippery slopes, we should consider the ones lurking behind legislation that limits people’s autonomy in deciding what they can and can’t do with their bodies.
The current laws in Canada are extremely restrictive. The legislation around medically assisted death puts a lot of emphasis on ensuring the autonomy of the patient. According to the End-of-Life Law and Policy in Canada website, patients must make “a voluntary request for medical assistance in dying that, in particular, was not made as a result of external pressure.”
Canadian legislation ensures a patient isn’t able to go through the whole process hastily. In order to receive a medically assisted death, patients must submit and sign a written request to end their life in front of two witnesses, 10 days before death. Two physicians must also agree with the written agreement, which confirms the patient has an incurable medical condition that is in an advanced state and that death is foreseeable. Patients also need to be aware of other palliative care options.
Not everyone’s views on death are the same. Some see it as the worst thing that could ever happen to a person and as something to avoid for as long as possible. This is a valid point of view, but it is by no means universal. If someone truly believes death is more desirable than the suffering they are currently enduring, who are we to stop them? Everyone has a completely unique human experience and personal philosophy, and they should be allowed to act according to that. Disagreeing with their choice is no reason to limit their ability to make the choice.