Reserving the right to death with dignity to Canadians addresses the international issue of “suicide tourism.”
When a country legalizes assisted suicide, it raises the concern that foreigners will travel to the country in order to legally end their own lives, a phenomenon called suicide tourism. In Switzerland — one of just four European nations that permits physician-assisted suicide — it was found that over 600 people traveled to the country between 2008 and 2012 specifically to die.
With the new bill in Canada, PAS would be reserved only for Canadians over the age of 18 who are eligible for Canada’s national health care. Terminal patients would have to wait 15 days after learning their diagnoses before being able to opt for PAS, and mentally ill people are excluded from the option.
In the United States, assisted suicide is mainly illegal and highly controversial.
Death with Dignity Acts have been passed in Oregon, Washington, California, and Vermont. Several other states including New York and New Jersey currently have physician-assisted suicide legislation under review. One physician made infamous by practicing PAS (and, later, euthanasia) is Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who was charged with second-degree murder and served eight years in prison starting in 1999.
Naturally, with Canada being so close and easily accessible for many Americans, it had been a haven for patients looking to end their lives in the past.
More details are yet to be released on the new Canadian legislation.
While it caused some outrage across Canada, the bill was described by Health Minister Jane Philpott as being “about empowering patients to take control of their own health care. It’s about allowing them to write their own stories.”
Why should we be forced to live, especially with terrible sickness or in later years when our health is declining and our quality of life has become unbearable? Would you rather suffer or be able to make the choice to die peacefully? For Canadians, that choice just became much clearer.