Assisted Suicide and Canadian Law


Canada still has not come to a decision on the need for legalizing
euthanasia or assisted suicide. A woman named Sue Rodriguez brought it out into
open to become one of Canada's famous court debates. In February of 1994, she
ended her life with the assistance of her doctor. She suffered from a terminal
illness called ALS (a.k.a. amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's
disease). The disease progressively worsens until it robs the individual of all
their abilities (like walking, control of body movement, swallowing and
breathing) until they are totally dependent on mechanical devices to survive.
Before she ended her life, she brought the debate over assisted suicide
and the right to die to the Supreme Court of British Columbia (which was denied)
and then to the British Columbia Court of Appeal which was lost. She fought
though for the right to change the laws of assisted suicide and have the right
to choose when she would die.
Sue Rodriguez is an example of the need for the Canadian government to
decide on the laws surrounding this issue. In this paper I will explain
euthanasia or assisted suicide, the laws surrounding the issue and some of the
arguments for and against it. Later I will discuss the role of the social
worker in regards to assisted suicide and the health care setting.