Although physician assisted suicide (PAD) is now legal all throughout Canada, there are still a variety of different views on the topic.
As of June 2016, Canadian physicians are now legally able to assist terminally ill patients in their own death.
According to The Star, approximately 200 Canadians have taken advantage of the new legislation since it was passed in June.
“I am an advocate for assisted dying after seeing what my friend was going through,” said 53 year-old legal assistant, Helen Mackay, in an over the phone interview.
“There was no possibility of her getting better and her quality of life was stripped from her,” Mackay said.
“I don’t think it’s about the amount of time you have, it’s about what you can do with that time.”
Mackay explained that her friend, Cherie Doucet, struggled with oral cancer, which was first discovered by her dentist during a routine check up in 2013.
At first, Doucet had part of her tongue removed and lost her taste, but was still able to eat.
Within a few short years, Doucet had lost much more than that.
The cancer had spread throughout her entire body, especially affecting her breathing, nerves, and ability to move.
“Everything she loved in life was taken away from her,” said Mackay.
“She used to love to walk and be outside and now she couldn’t even hold he head up.
“She knew she was dying.”
Eventually, Doucet decided that she wanted to exercise her right to her physician and go through with PAD.
“I got to wish her peace,” said Mackay. “I think that if someone has been given the prognosis where they’re not going to get better, and they’re only going to get weaker and sicker, then why prolong that? The kindest thing is to let them decide.
“Cherie had no control over her illness, but the one thing she was able to control was her death. And that was empowering for her. To have that choice.”
Regardless of the legalization of PAD in Canada, some people are still on the fence about the sensitive topic.
“To me it’s like abortion,” said Ashley Fazekas, a fourth-year journalism student at Mount Royal University in a face-to-face interview. “I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t want a family member to do it, but everyone has their right to decide.”
Fazekas said she understands where people are coming from when they say that they support PAD, but she wouldn’t want it to happen in her own life.
The bill that was passed for PAD to be legal in Canada has an extensive amount of restrictions and requirements that a patient must meet to ensure that not just anyone can take advantage of the new law.
According to an article in CBC, “Patients must also be eligible for publicly funded health care services in Canada, which precludes people from the U.S. or other jurisdictions travelling to Canada to end their lives with the help of a doctor.”
The bill is also designed to protect people from being encouraged to die in “moments of weakness”, and gives them a mandatory 15-day reflection period so that people don’t make an irrational decision after being given their prognosis.
The bill also ensures that physicians can provide assistance without the risk of being charged afterwards.
Mackay explained that because assisted suicide is such a sensitive topic, many people don’t like to talk about it and therefore don’t support it.
“Most doctors don’t believe in it,” said Mackay. “But you have to witness it once to understand.
“To be in the company of someone who is really sick and there’s nothing medically that can be done for them, then you’ll understand.”