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Benefits of Assisted Suicide

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Kelsey Jay

on 25 July 2013

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Transcript of Benefits of Assisted Suicide

Benefits of Assisted Suicide
in Canada

Rachel Chan
Navjot Dhindsa
Kelsey Jay
Cathy Lao
Aleena Mahmood
Christable Sarkar

What is it?
Common Misconceptions
- term for actions which an individual helps another person voluntarily bring about their own death (such as a doctor, but not just physician assisted suicide- physician provides assistance)
“assistance” can mean: providing one with means of doing so or can be other actions
- lethal injections
- stop life-prolonging therapies
- Having access to physician-assisted suicide allows the patient to maintain control over his or her situation
-By means of providing the prescription necessary, a doctor can allow a terminally ill patient to end his or life in a safe, effective, and painless way.
- Reduced burden on the health care system
- Assisted suicide and euthanasia are NOT the same!
- in assisted suicide the patient is in complete control of the process
- Physician assisted suicide is currently legal in the following countries:

* Belgium
* Luxembourg
* Netherlands
*3 states of US: Oregon, Washington and Montana
- “The common law recognizes the right of an adult, competent person to refuse medical treatment or to demand that treatment, once begun, be withdrawn or discontinued.”

- Section 241 of the Criminal Code:
“Every one who
1.counsels a person to commit suicide, or
2.aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.”
Some Arguments Against
Physician Assisted Suicide
It is wrong to kill another person
Lethal injections are unacceptable
Allowing assisted suicide "places the very soul of medicine on trial"
Managed death is impermissible killing
Violates the oath physicians take to to heal and never to cause harm.
"Life is the possession of the person who lives it"
"Life is a gift, of which we are custodians with certain duties"
Pain cannot be alleviated for 2% to 5% of hospice patients
Pain is unbearable the week before death for 5% to 35% of hospice patients
Promotes good end-of-life conversation
Reduce haphazardness of secretly doing it
Avoids suffering and debasement, as some patients cannot stand being debilitated or dependent
Doctors are suppose to provide care and meet the patient's interest. Depriving patient from painless death can also be viewed as causing harm, which opposes physician's role as a healer.
Alternatives to a Miserable Death
Stop life-prolonging therapies, such as steroids or ventilators
Voluntarily stop eating or drinking
Physician-assisted suicide
Case Study
Gloria Taylor
A right to die with dignity
Gloria was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease)
Taylor filed an application with the British Columbia Supreme Court asking to be added as a plaintiff in the BCCLA death with dignity lawsuit.
In April 2011 they challenged the laws that make it a criminal offense to assist seriously and incurably ill individuals to die with dignity.
Argued that the ban violates Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms covering the right to equality and the right to life, liberty and security of the person
The Fight to die in peace

She said the law must allow for doctor-assisted suicide in cases where patients have a serious illness or disability and are experiencing intolerable suffering.
Such patients must ask for the help, must be free of coercion and cannot be clinically depressed
Won a court-approved exemption when a judge ruled that Canada’s ban on physician-assisted suicide infringes on the rights of disabled people.
On October 4th 2012 she died from a severe infection and Gloria did not need to seek the assistance of a physician to end her life as it was an acute and brief infection.
The struggle continues......
I'd really like to see people say assisted dying and stop saying assisted suicide. It is not suicide. There is no comparison ... nobody is helping me commit suicide. They are helping me to die a peaceful death"
- GLoria Taylor
A doctor treating an elderly, bed-ridden patient at home, leaves powerful sleeping tablets by the bed with strict instructions that no more than two must be taken on any account. The patient has already told the doctor that she wants to die.
Assisted Suicide or Euthanasia?
A consultant rheumatologist from Winchester made huge headlines when he was convicted of attempted murder, but given a 12 month suspended sentence in 1992. His ‘crime’ had been to give a terminally ill, elderly woman a lethal injection of potassium chloride. She had requested this.
Assisted Suicide or Euthanasia?
- "Canadian physicians should not participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide." Due to conflict of interest with physician's job as a lifesaver.

- Support groups advocating "right-to-die" to legalize this process.

- Opponents fear that vulnerable patients, those who are unable to make decision for themselves will be treated unfairly if assisted suicide is legalized.
Current law in Canada
- Section 14 of the Criminal Code:

"No person is entitled to consent to have death inflicted on him, and such consent does not affect the criminal responsibility of any person by whom death may be inflicted on the person by whom consent is given.”

* Doctor would be held responsible
Current Laws in Canada cont'd.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982 being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (U.K.), 1982, c. 11. Retrived from http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html

Dunlop, D. et al. (2004, March). Physician- Assisted Suicide Debate. Retrieved from http://endlink.lurie.northwestern.edu/physician_assisted_suicide_debate/what.cfm

Euthanasia progress in the 20th and 21st century. (2010, 08 28). Retrieved from http://www.finalexit.org/assisted_suicide_world_laws_page2.html

Euthanasia in Canada. (2012). Retrieved from http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia_in_Canada

Humprey, D. (2005, 03 01). Tread carefully when you help to die . Retrieved from http://www.assistedsuicide.org/suicide_laws.html

Milne, C. (2006). Assisted suicide. Medical Post, 42(20), 50-52. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/228904490?accountid=13800

National Advisory Council on Aging OTTAWA, Ontario KlA OK9 (613) 957-1968.(1991).MENTAL HEALTH AND AGING .Retrieved from http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/H71-2-1-11-1991E.pdf#page=77

Oregon health: Death with dignity act . (n.d.). Retrieved from http://public.health.oregon.gov/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Pages/index.aspx
Benefits cont'd
- Reduced burden on family

- Allows for freedom of choice, which is entrenched in the Canadian identity

- Quality of death, "Death with Dignity"
Men vs. Women
Men commit suicide at a rate four times higher than that of women.
Women make 3 to 4 times more suicide attempts than men do
Women are hospitalized for attempted suicide at 1.5 times the rate of men.
Old vs. Young
12/100 000 individuals aged 65 years or over die by suicide in Canada annually
More than 90% of children and adolescents who die by suicide have a mental disorder (25% of deaths among youth aged 15-24 is due to suicide, a rate second only to car accidents)
More than 90% of children and adolescents who die by suicide have a mental disorder (25% of deaths among youth aged 15-24 is due to suicide, a rate second only to car accidents)
Critically ill patients vs. general population
People with the condition have a 50 times higher risk of attempting suicide
10 of 44 terminally ill cancer patients were suicidal or desired an early death
Support Assisted Suicide?
In 1997, the Angus Reid Group found that 76% of those polled supported the right to die, 17% did not support it, and 7% were unsure.
A 2001 Leger Marketing poll found that 75.5% of Canadians support it
Most recent report: 67% of Canadians support legalizing assisted suicide
Prado, C. G., (2000). Assisted suicide: Canadian perspectives. University of Ottawa Press. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/lib/sfu/docDetail.action?docID=10132484

Public Health Agency of Canada.(2008).Epidemiological Review.Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/canada/regions/atlantic/Publications/Mental_Health_Scan/4-eng.php

Rogatz, P. (2011, November/December). The Virtues of Physician- Assisted Suicide. Retreived from http://www.thehumanist.org/humanist/articles/rogatz.htm

Smith, N. (2011, December). The Positive Aspects of Physician Assisted Suicide. Retrieved from http://www.articlemyriad.com/positive-aspects-physician-assisted-suicide/

Tiedemann, M., & Valiquet, D. Canada Library of Parliament, Law and Government Division. (2008). Euthanasia and assisted suicide in canada (91-9E). Retrieved from website: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/LOP/researchpublications/919-e.htm

Tom.B. (2011, Dec 29).67% of Canadian support legalizing assisted suicide:poll.Nation Post .Retrieved from http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/12/29/67-of-canadians-support-legalizing-assisted-suicide-poll/

Wikipedia’s Assisted Suicide, (2012). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assisted_suicide

William.B.(n.d.).Suicide Risk and Pain Cancer AIDS Patients.Retrieved from http://www.painresearch.utah.edu/cancerpain/ch04.html

Todd, T. (2012, June 16). Gloria Taylor: Christian fights for own assisted suicide. The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from http://

The Canadian Press. ( 2012, Ocober 5). B.C woman behind challenge of Canada's ban on assisted suicide dies. Maclean's. Retrieved from http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/10/05/b-c-woman-behind-challenge-of-canadas-ban-on-assisted-suicide-dies/

Cordeaux, J. (2001, January). Types of Euthanasia. Retrieved Novemeber 2, 2012, from http://www.world-faiths.com/GCSE%20Short%20course/examples_of_euthanasia.htm
Matters to address, prior to any talk of changing legal status of assisted suicide:

- Palliative-care services
- Suicide-prevention programs
- Study on medical decision-making near the end of life/during dying
- Public should have a say in the matter
- Consider whether or not assisted-suicide can be restricted to only its intended purposes
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