L'EUTHANASIE VOLONTAIRE ACTIVE ET LE ROLE DE L'ETAT

Authors

  • DANIELLE CHALIFOUX

Abstract

In a free and democratic society, is it now accepted that a person whose lucidity is not in question, who suffers-from an incurable disease and has intolerable suffering which is impossible to eliminate, could legally request and obtain help to put an end to her or his life? This question contains all of the elements defining voluntary active euthanasia. The population in general and also medical practitioners, when they are questioned personnally, generally answer in the affirmative. Yet, in Canada as elsewhere, professional associations continue to hesitate to recognize officially any form of voluntary active euthanasia. Decision-makers (legislators or judges)fear the abuses that could be generated if laws were amended to allow voluntary active euthanasia in some circumstances. They fear that even partial decriminalisation, which would allow voluntary active euthanasia in very few circumstances, will lead to such great abuses that jurisdictions should not amend the law to create a medical exception to the Criminal law to this effect. A majority of judges are in favour of the criminal sanctions, and opposed to the recognition of the patient's rights and the implementation of control measures in order to prevent abuses. This fear of abuse seems to be the greatest obstacle to the expression of popular opinion, which is generally favourable to voluntary active euthanasia. State intervention in this matter could be carried out without affecting the rights of those opposed to voluntary active euthanasia and which could ensure also the implementation of effective controls against abuses, but there is much resistance and decision-makers hesitate. The difficult task of establishing norms and to apply them seems insurmountable.

Keywords:

Medico-Legal

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Published

2000-02-01

Issue

Section

Legal Commentary

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