Criminal law reflects the sanctity of life according to Thomas McMorrow.
Euthanasia is legal in American states Oregon, Montana, Washington, Vermont, California, Colorado and Washington D.C. This was achieved through popular vote.
It is also possible to knowingly and intentionally commit suicide with the assistance of physicians or lethal doses of drugs in The Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Japan and Canada.
Canadian Thomas McMorrow spoke today in Trinity about the right to die.
“To allow someone to take their life in Canada is not condoning nor is it condemning people’s view on the permissibly of taking their own life. Lifting such a prohibition lifts social and cultural pressures.”
The Carter decision last year, ruled that under certain circumstances, where a competent adult requests medical assistance to terminate his or her life, the criminal prohibition of aid in dying is unconstitutional. One would not require a terminal illness but must have a grievous and irremediable medical condition, which causes you to suffer intolerably.
Both euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal under Irish law. Euthanasia, depending on varying circumstances is regarded as either manslaughter or murder and is punishable by up to life imprisonment. While assisted suicide is illegal, attempting to commit suicide in itself is not a criminal offence.
In September of this year, a poll in Canada revealed that 85% of people support the right to die. When asked to explain the Canadian legal system for someone who has little knowledge of law. McMorrow uses an example of prostitution; selling sex is not a criminal offence however living off money made in prostitution is illegal. Making this practice legal would ensure that the working conditions of the prostitute were more dangerous.
In explaining the Canadian law, he explains that the legislation doesn’t say you have a right to abortion just as it says you doesn’t have the right to die. In the Rodriguez case of 1993 in which the man fought for PAS or Physician Assisted Suicide, he pleaded “Who owns this body?”
When asked about Rodriguez, McMorrow states that the notion of property or ownership over one’s body seems inconsistent in that there are other communal commitments so that agency can be controlled to a certain extent by other bodies, i.e. “It’s a lot cheaper for a publicly funded health system.”
Opinion polls carried out in Ireland over the last few years have shown that seven out of ten people are in favour of assisted suicide in the case of a terminal illness.
In this instance, what does life and death boil down to?
Costs for the family, a lack of hospital beds, dignity or sadness?
According to McMorrow, each country may have one language but that language contains different idioms and accents. Regardless of different legislation, we are all individuals, who should retain the right to live or die.