"Hot" religious topics
Euthanasia & Physician
All sides to the issue.
||"Whose life is it, anyway?" A plea by the late Sue Rodrigues, a high-profile, terminally-ill resident of British
Columbia, Canada, who suffered from ALS. 1 She was helped to commit suicide by a physician
in violation of Canadian law in the presence of a Member of Parliament. Neither
the doctor nor the MP were prosecuted.
||"We are disappointed at the
decision. The president remains fully committed to building a culture of life
... that is built on valuing life at all stages." White House spokesman
Scott McClellan speaking for President George W. Bush, responding to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2006-JAN
which found the Oregon physician assisted suicide legislation to be
||"The right to a good
death is a basic human freedom. The [2006-JAN] Supreme Court's decision to uphold aid
in dying allows us to view and act on death as a dignified moral and godly
choice for those suffering with terminal illnesses." John Shelby Spong, retired bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA. 3
Throughout North America, committing suicide or attempting to commit suicide
is no longer a criminal offense. However, helping another person commit suicide is
generally considered a
criminal act. Three exceptions are the states of:
||Oregon which, since 1997, has allowed people who are
terminally ill, in intractable pain, and not depressed to obtain a lethal prescription from their
physician which they may decide to consume and end their chronic suffering. This is called "Physician Assisted Suicide" or PAS.
||Washington voters passed Initiative 1000 in
2008-NOV. Supporters call it a "Death with Dignity bill;" opponents call it
an "Assisted Suicide" measure. Both are accurate descriptions. It is simlilar to the Oregon law.
||Montana's Montana Supreme Court legalized PAS in a decision
handed down on 2009-DEC-31. Unfortunately, it does not have the system of safeguards in place that the laws in Oregon and Washington have
There were four failed ballot initiatives between 1991 and 2000:
||1991: Washington state: defeated narrowly 54% to 46%
||1992: California: Defeated narrowly 54% to 46%
||1998: Michigan: Defeated overwhelmingly 71% to 29%
||2000: Maine: Defeated very narrowly 51% to 49%.
Between 1994 and 2010, there have been in excess of 75 legislative bills to legalize PAS in at least 21
states. All failed to become law. 4
For frequent updates on assisted suicide topics, consult:
- The Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC) is a pro-choice agency. They issue periodic newsletters covering recent developments on this topic. See http://www.deathwithdignity.org/ to view the most recent newsletter and/or to sign up for Email updates.
- The International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide is a pro-life agency that opposes physician assisted suicide. They have a list of recent news items on their home page at: http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/
Topics covered in this section:
Related essays in this web site:
The author of this section is approaching his mid 70's. End of life issues have
taken on a personal aspect. Being an Agnostic, he
does not fear death. He does not fear being dead. However, he has considerable fear of the
process of dying, which for some people in North America is an agonizingly painful and
lengthy process during which time one's enjoyment of life often drops to zero and becomes negative. Fortunately for him, he lives in Canada which -- like all other
developed countries other than the U.S. -- has universal health care.
Unfortunately, pain management is often as poorly managed in Canada as it is in the U.S.
He regards suicide as a civil right and would prefer that he have access to a means of suicide if life becomes unbearable. He thus strongly supports legalizing
physician assisted suicide.
However, he has attempted to remain impartial, objective and fair while
writing these essays.
Not a sponsored link
- "A Newsletter from the Honorable Sharon Carstairs, Senator For
Manitoba," 1995-OCT, at: http://sen.parl.gc.ca/
- James Vicini, "Court rules govt. can't stop Oregon suicide law," Reuters News Agency, 2005-JAN-17,
- "Bishop Spong Q&A on Death with dignity," Agoramedia mailing,
- Kathi Hamlon, "Failed Attempts to Legalize Euthanasia/Assisted-Suicide in
the United States," International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide,
Copyright © 1997 to 2010, by Ontario Consultants on
Last updated on 2010-NOV-19
Author: B.A. Robinson