Should people be able to choose when to die?

by sosso_gb12 on September 9, 2013 - 8:53pm


Sophia Gregoire-Boyer

Humanities 1282

September 9th, 2013


Should people be able to choose when to die?

This news article is about the pros and cons of assisted suicide and how this issue is viewed in Canada and other countries.   First of all, there are many points of view on this issue that represent both sides of the debate.  Here are some arguments from people who want the law on assisted suicide in Canada to be enacted.  Many believe that we should be able to decide on our own when and how to die.  Other arguments focus on the duty of the doctor to alleviate pain and suffering.  This would ensure that people in an extreme painful condition should be able to decide whether or not they still want to live.  People who believe in individual human rights could argue that banning assisted suicide would violate the Constitution by impeding our individual freedom rights and autonomy that are guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  This ban would also rob people with deteriorating illnesses of their liberty and discriminate against those with a physical disability who need help in fulfilling their right to take their own life.    

Other people that are against assisted suicide believe that actively causing one’s own death is no different from refusing life-saving treatment.  Some people argue that vulnerable individuals would seek assisted suicide because of the financial burden of caring for them.  The same population also worry because they believe that this law would lessen the pressure of providing better palliative care and would slow research on new cures and therapies to fight degenerating illnesses.  Very religious individuals would argue that God, not humans, should decide the time and circumstances of our death.  In this case, we would not have any control over ourselves.  Also, many medical professionals maintain that it is not morally acceptable for doctors to help kill their patients.  Moreover, in the early 1990’s, it has been proclaimed by the Supreme Court of Canada, that society’s obligation to preserve life and protect the vulnerable, outweighs our rights.            

Moral principles, which support assisted suicide, include the principle of equality, equal consideration of interests and beneficence.  The principle of equality can be applied to this context, since everyone is equal and has a right to equal treatment, which is protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  This means that people with deteriorating illnesses and those with a physical disability should be considered equal.  Therefore, each would have the right to take their lives without discrimination of any kind, even if some of them would require help.  Then, the principle of equal consideration of interests also links to this article, as every person’s interests should be considered when taking the decision on Bill 52, an act respecting end-of-life care.  Finally, the last principle applying to this issue is the principle of beneficence.  When a person suffers from an extremely painful and incurable disease, If there is no other option, the doctor, in fulfilling his duty, should be allowed to actively end the patient’s life. This argument is not based on autonomy, but on beneficence, since it is said to require actions that benefit others by preventing harm and stopping it when it is inflicted.

Conversely, the principle of conservatism supports people who want to prevent any law on assisted suicide from being enacted.  For example, many physicians and other medical professionals refer to this principle when asked about the law on assisted suicide.  Most of them think that the law should remain the same as it was before, meaning that assisted suicide would still be a crime today.  This principle protects the continuation of a generally accepted practice, which is usually a medical practice.  In this case, doctors mostly want to maintain status quo, since they believe that it is not morally permissible to help kill their patients.  Therefore, they value human life over our right to die.

Here are many values that represent both sides of the debate.  Autonomy and justice are conflicting values, because one believes that people should be able to decide whenever they desire to die, while another could believe that adhering to the rule of law is more important.  Open-mindedness and tradition are also conflicting values in the sense that an open-minded person can consider the new law on assisted suicide, while a traditionalist believes in sticking to the same old laws and principles, and despises changes, such as having a new law on assisted suicide.  Furthermore, there is respect for our basic human rights, such as individual freedom, and the fundamental prohibition of killing.  In this scenario, someone who believes in protecting rights such as our individual freedom would not tolerate unpreventable and unbearable pain to occur without stopping it.  They would want to have the choice to decide if they want to live with the pain or end their lives.

In conclusion, I believe that the side where people favor the law is stronger, because humans, as they now live longer and who are constantly in unbearable pain should decide their fate when faced with the decision to live or not.  Also, terminally ill patients who desire to end their lives are not physically harming other people, so I believe there is no valid reason to prevent them from having someone help them.  One of our basic rights is the right for freedom, and in my opinion, the right to decide of our future should be ours. Additionally, here is one basic right, which I think is very important.  It is the right for autonomy.  This right involves the right to make decisions for ourselves when these decisions involve our own well-being, which is in this case, our health.  This is why we should be able to decide what is good for us.  I think that there are many values that support my point of view, like autonomy and freedom, dependability and wisdom.  All these values represent why people would be in favor of assisted suicide.  For example, they depend on others to help them die, so it is in their favor to accept the law.

Eventually, should the right to die be enacted without any further parameters?; such as medical consensus, psychological support, family values and economics.   

Works Cited

“The fight for the right to die.”  CBC NEWS  15 June 2012.  Web.  4 Sept. 2013.


The subject of this article is what caught my attention at first. I completely agree that people should have the right to choose when they die. The principal of the greater good can be applied to this ethical issue. It can be applied because if, for example, a person is suffering from a disease such as Alzheimer’s, which eventually will take their autonomy away, and they want their families to remember them healthy and they themselves do not want to live with the permanent lost of memory, then in the long run, good is created for all. The value of freedom of choice also becomes very important when wanting to decide to die before our time comes. But then, who would be there to judge and regulate who can actually benefit from assisted suicide?

Interesting subject. It seems very hard to take a decision on this subject especially when you think about the consequences that death can have on your family members and friends.Seems hard to me to be conscious that you chose to let someone die, I could not stand with a feeling like this. I agree with your opinion, but you should take into consideration that most of the people that are really sick at the point where they want to kill themselves, do not have a full capacity of mental reasoning and are probably being depressed at this time. I do agree that at one point someone that as been suffering for a certain time should have the right to end his life. Therefore I think they should not be able to sign their death alone, I believe that at least two members of their family should authorize it, especially in case like Alzheimer. In a case of
depression death should not be an issue, death should be an issue when your body is not functioning and your mind is capable of good reasoning. On the other side how would you feel to sign a paper that would let your son die because he became paraplegic after a car accident and cannot live like this anymore ?