CW: What impact, if any, do you think this case will have on Canada's medical system?
Second, we should also remind ourselves of this fact: withdrawing or withholding extraordinary, burdensome, or medically useless treatment from a terminally ill patient and thereby allowing the patient to die of the illness is already both a legal and ethical part of palliative care—and does not require the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. Different people have different thresholds for enduring pain and suffering. We should acknowledge this, while also acknowledging that this doesn't require physician-assisted suicide. (We should also remember that there is a treatment called palliative sedation, which can minimize pain as death runs its natural course. For more on palliative sedation, check The Journal of the American Medical Association, available online: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=201675.)
Third, the legal acceptance of physician-assisted suicide—i.e., the deliberate, active killing of a suffering human being—signals the culture's embrace of death as a solution to medical, social, and psychological problems. Call me a defender of some old-fashioned ideals of human civilization, but (as I've said previously) it seems to me that medical, social, and psychological problems require medical, social, and psychological solutions—not killing. To embrace death as a solution is (as I've said previously) to embrace what Pope John Paul II called the culture of death. Surely, we should embrace a culture of life.
I strongly suspect that if we had better palliative care—i.e., medical care that allows terminally-ill people to die with dignity, with little or no pain, and surrounded by genuinely caring people—we would also have fewer people calling for physician-assisted suicide.
Maybe instead of calling for a right to physician-assisted suicide, we should be calling for a right to top-notch palliative care? Surely, administering top-notch palliative care would be more humane than putting down a loved one as if he/she were a pet.