Assisted Suicide, Medically Assisted Dying or Euthanasia - an act of mercy or murder?

The ability for a person to request assisted suicide, medically assisted dying or euthanasia is a heavily debated topic globally and people's rights to this vary greatly from country to country.  Assistance in death, depending on one's perspective, is considered by some to be an act of murder and by others as an act of help. The generally accepted definition for assisted suicide is "the deliberate action taken with the intention of ending a life, in order to relieve persistent suffering" according to the MedicalNewsToday. 

Assistance in death is one of the most controversial and heavily debated topics amongst ethics committees across the globe. Until 2016, assisted suicide was illegal in Canada. In 2015, after decades of various legal challenges, the Supreme Court of Canada decided unanimously to allow physician-assisted suicide. The law has been heavily debated by many, particularly in cases where the person is not of sound mind to articulate their wish to die. Many countries today still consider assisted dying as murder and punishable by law. In US, the law varies by state. In 1828, New York was the first state to make assisted dying illegal with other states following suit shortly after. In 1977 California gave legal jurisdiction to formal ethics committees in hospitals and nursing homes to allow assisted death, with other states starting to mirror the act.

According to our online study, 72% of Tellwutters stated that they agree with the concept of “assisted death”. However, only half of our survey takers (51%) are absolutely sure about removing the provision that currently enables assisted dying only for people whose natural deaths are classified as “reasonably foreseeable”. The majority of our survey takers also felt that “assisted suicide” should be expanded to people suffering from mental illnesses.

The topic of “assisted suicide” continues to be debated on various platforms due to the ethical dilemmas it continues to pose. On the pro side, there are arguments about freedom of choice, quality of life, dignity in dying and a few others, while on the no side there are discussions around the Hippocratic Oath which prohibits doctors from this, as well as moral and religious arguments, guilt, mental illness, or even the person's competence (i.e. they might not realize other options are available) and possibly the most important aspect - regulation. It can be a slippery slope from helping someone who really has no alternative to manslaughter. We are sure the debate will continue for years to come.

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