Canadian Criminal Law

I would disagree with the verdict bestowed on Dr. Jack Kevorkian on several reasons. Physicians, by their profession, work to save the lives of people who are suffering from illnesses. However, there are cases wherein their patient can no longer be treated by medicine as some end up in a lasting vegetative state or a coma. In which case, the patient is alive, but useless and in pain. In these cases, euthanasia or mercy killing has been suggested and is made acceptable in some countries.

However, physicians who actually implement euthanasia are hesitant whether to resort to it or not because of the clashes between possible punishment that they may suffer and the pressures from the family of their terminally ill patients. Euthanasia, to be valid, requires that the patient is terminally ill and that he is killed on compassionate grounds with purpose of ending his suffering. It is also important that there is consent for the act. Consent may be from the patient or from his family or relatives.

On the other hand, the issue on euthanasia has long been debated on the grounds that it is morally wrong because it involves killing, which is a crime. In addition, many argue that it is not the solution to the problem and that the consent does not justify the acts. However, the families of the people who are directly involved to this case have agreed and resorted to euthanasia to alleviate the suffering they bear while seeing their family members in a vegetative state.

This eventually has resulted in various debates in the government and conflict on the physicians because it contradicts their professional ethics. In the case of Dr. Jack Kevorkian alias Dr. Death, the person whom he killed was terminally ill and the relatives have consented to the act. The case of Dr. Kevorkian falls on the acceptable means of treating which is euthanasia. But the problem is the absence of the law which immunes the physicians from such acts. However, in US, euthanasia has been made acceptable as shown in the cases of Karen Quinlan, Nancy Cruzan, and Terri Schiavo.

In these cases, the court has settled the issue whether the life of a terminally ill person can be legally ended through euthanasia. The court held that there must be consent on the part of the ill person and if the consent cannot be obtained because of the incapability of the patient, his or her family shall be authorized to give consent. However, there must be evidences that will support the consent of the family such as an accurate finding on the health of the ill patient. There should also be proof that there are no more means that can save the life of the patient.

Moreover, in Quinlan's case, there was a written advance directive which specifies the choice of the ill person on how he wants to be treated if he is incompetent has been adopted (Law Library, 2008). The committee on ethics, which determines the health of the ill person has also been established to make sure that euthanasia is necessary and to immune the physicians from punishments. In the case of the Nancy Cruzan, the court reiterated that before euthanasia can be applied, there must first be a convincing and clear evidence to support the consent of the family (Richards & Rathbun, 1999, p. 47).

It should be proven that euthanasia could have been chosen by Nancy if she was capable of speaking herself (Richards & Rathbun, 1999, p. 47). This case laid down a stricter measure than in the case of Quinlan. In Schiavo's case, the family of the Terri who had cardiac arrest was divided whether to discontinue the use of the feeding tube or not. Due to this conflict the court has decided on the discontinuance of the tube feeding (Colby, 2006, p. 237). In all cases, the court upheld euthanasia as a last resort to end the life of patients who no longer have the possibility of recovering.

Nevertheless, it may be said that euthanasia has not accumulated most of public and legal opinion but the liberty of the patient's decision to die or to end their suffering shall be respected on a compassionate grounds. The case of Dr. Death is similar with cases discussed. It should also be considered that their duty is not easy and more often than not, complicated. Sometimes, they have to resort to means that are of the best interest of the patient and their family. It may be hard to accept but the decision shall privately belong to the patient's family who directly suffers the pain of it.


Colby, W. H. (2006). Unplugged: Reclaiming Our Right to Die in America. Amacom Div     American Management. Free Online Dictionary. (2008). Crime. Retrieved May 29, 2008, from     http://www. thefreedictionary. com/crime Law Library. (2008). In the Matter of Karen Ann Quinlan:1975. Retrieved May 29, 2008,     from http://law. jrank. org/pages/3250/In-Matter-Karen-Ann-Quinlan-1975. html Richards, E. P. , & Rathbun, K. C. (1999). Medical Care Law. Maryland: An Aspen     Publication.