GENTECH archive 8.96-97


Editorial on Canadian Media position on RTD (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 8 Feb 1997 16:20:14 -0500
From: Marilynne Seguin <dwdcams@WEB.NET>
Reply-To: ERGO's Right To Die Mailing List <>
Subject: Editorial on Canadian Media position on RTD

The Globe and Mail is the major national newspaper of Canada and held in
high esteem by thoughtful persons both at home and abroad. Aprox. one year
ago their editorial board published their position statement on the right to
die issue in favour of the same. This editorial was published in Dying With
Dignity's Newsletter at that time.

Concerning the Robert Latimer case the following editorial appeared on
Friday, February 7,1997. I believe it will be of interest to RTD advocates
on this list.

              Euthanasia, mercy and Robert Latimer

Robert Latimer will have a new trial, the Supreme Court has ruled, and
questions about what has come to be known as the right to die are thereby
back in the spotlight.
 On Oct.24,1993, Mr. Latimer, a Saskatchewan farmer, phoned the RCMP (Royal
Canadian Mounted Police) detachment in the town of Wilkie (in the province
of Saskatchewan) and said that his 12-year-old daughter, who suffered
greatly from cerebral palsy, had passed away. It was a Sunday afternoon, and
Tracy Latimer had been home alone with her father while her mother and
siblings were attending church. When police and the coroner arrived at the
farm, Mr. Latimer said Tracy had died in her sleep.
 The coroner's autopsy, however, found that the dead girl's blood was
saturated with carbon monoxide. The RCMP decided to treat this as a
potential homicide.
 On Nov. 4,1993, Mr. Latimer was arrested and taken to North Battleford RCMP
offices. Repeatedly refusing the offer of a lawyer, he confessed to killing
his daughter. A jury convicted him of second-degree murder. The judge
imposed the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without eligibility of
parole for 10 years.
 The Supreme Court, however, has ordered a new trial because of a serious
breach of procedure on the part of the prosecution and the RCMP that took
place before the first trial. The police, in an unprecedented and
unacceptable move, privately interviewed prospective jurors, asking them
about their attitudes toward religion, abortion and euthanasia. Five of the
interviewees ended up on the jury that convicted Mr. Latimer. Defence
councel was not informed of these interviews, which were, according to Chief
Justice Antonio Lamer, "nothing short of flagrant abuse of process and
interference with the administration of justice." The jury was tainted,
hence the need for a new trial.
 Whether Mr. Latimer should be found guilty and sentenced anew is up to the
judge and jury. But we can surely say the case bears little relation to that
of a conscious yet terminally ill adult who clearly and sincerely expresses
a wish to die.
 An adult has the right to choose to commit suicide, and, whatever the moral
disapprobation some may legitimately feel toward that act, it is no crime.
Or, if debilitatingly ill, an adult may seek the assistance of another to
help end his or her life. At the moment, that is a crime in Canada. We have
come to the conclusion that it should not be. The law should be amended,
something only Parliament can do.
 Adults of sound mind but unsound body who repeatedly and forcefully express
a wish to die because of a debilitating, terminal illness should be able to
seek and receive the assistance of qualified medical doctors to help them in
ending their lives. As for the cases of assisted suicide or euthanasia not
satisfying that strict set of criteria, they should be treated as crimes.
                          - 30 -

More on this later!
Marilynne Seguin
Executive Director
Dying With Dignity

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