My name is Priscilla Knerr Jaen and I am a 2L serving as a student staff member with the Center for Global Justice.
For the past month, I and several others have been working to complete a research outline for Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF), based in Canada. They requested a compilation of cases, treaties, law review articles, and other related materials regarding the topic of euthanasia for their upcoming court appearances.
Since Canada legalized euthanasia in very limited circumstances in 2016, there have been several legal challenges to the restrictions from parties claiming that the restrictions are violating certain human and constitutional rights.
Considering whether the right to life also means having the right to death based on one’s choosing is one of the foundational and contested questions. It is a question that involves not only case precedent, but also a consideration of morality, religion, and philosophy.
In addition, Canada has ratified several U.N. treaties. One portion of the preamble to the U.N. Charter says, “We the peoples of the United Nations determined…to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small….” How this language is interpreted by the courts may affect future legislation in these types of cases.
Working on this project, I learned:
– There are many synonyms for euthanasia, such as mercy killing, assisted suicide/death, physician-assisted suicide/aid in dying, death with dignity and merciful release.
– Euthanasia is growing in acceptance around the world. Some countries are even beginning to discuss euthanasia for children and disabled people.
I was not a philosophy major, but the philosophical side of the euthanasia debate caught my attention. Generally, reasonable people agree that death is inevitable. Although having the power to control the time, way, and place of our death may sound appealing in certain circumstances, I think of Psalm 139:13-16, where David wrote,
“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well…
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”
Trusting that the God who formed each human, promised to work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), and has already numbered our days should cause those of us who believe in Him to rest in that. For those who have not yet entered that resting trust in God, it is a harder discussion.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.