The Liberal government introduced a bill Thursday that would legalize medical assistance in dying. Once the bill passes the Parliament debate and becomes legislation, it will allow Canadian adults on a course toward the end of life to seek medical assistance in dying.
Under the provisions of the bill, seriously and incurably ill Canadians who are suffering unbearably would be allowed to seek a doctor’s assistance in dying through a written request signed by two witnesses. The patients’ requests would then be independently evaluated by two physicians, following which they would be subject to a 15-day mandatory waiting period, during which the patients can withdraw their request.
The bill, if it is approved, would add Canada to the list of a handful of nations, such as Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, where assisted suicide is legal.
Death is part of life and everyone deserves to die in peace and dignity. But for those who suffer incurable illness causing unbearable pain, there has been a long road of rights to die with dignity in Canada. Over the past, many Canadians fought to overturn the law banning doctor-assisted suicide in the country.
1991年，加拿大最高法院作出裁决维持刑法典中禁止医生辅助自杀的条款，但确诊罹患肌肉萎缩症的卑诗省居民Sue Rodriguez一年后仍在一名医生的帮助下结束了自己的生命。2013年，多伦多微生物学家Donald Low在死于脑癌之前录制视频，请求将医生辅助自杀合法化，在他去世后这段视频被公诸于众。
In 1992, Sue Rodriguez, a B.C. resident diagnosed with ALS took her own life with the help of a doctor a year after the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision upholding the criminal code ban on assisted death. In 2013, Dr. Donald Low, a Toronto microbiologist, made a plea for assisted death in a video released after he died from brain cancer.
A Chinese community member, Toronto lawyer Edward Hung, also made an emotional posthumous plea for assisted suicide. Hung, who died in 2014 in Switzerland, left behind a letter chronicling his decision to die with dignity. In a three-page letter, Edward Hung gave a harrowing account of his final few months while calling on Parliament to change Canada’s “unjust” laws against assisted suicide.
“However, my pride as a Canadian has somewhat diminished after having been on my knees begging to die in another country. This is not fair and I certainly do not wish it upon any of my fellow Canadians,” Hung wrote.
Hung said that he made an exit plan after he exhausted all medical options for treatment, including a “master miracle doctor” in a remote place in China. But to his disappointment, such a plan was impossible to carry out in Canada, given the country’s ban on assisted suicide.
But Hung, as a foreigner, had to go through a frustrating and costly process in order to qualify for the service in Switzerland. While Hung was lucky enough to have the financial resources to achieve a plan, others were barred from accessing doctor-assisted death in a foreign country.
Under the new bill, all Canadians suffering a qualified medical illness are granted rights to choose their own fate with medical assistance. And passing the bill may speak great comfort to the soul of many Canadians who fought for the rights to assisted suicide – including Mr. Hung.
“I will rest in peace, with no pain, no regrets, and with the comfort that I have been able to approach death with a purpose.”
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