Euthanasia is undoubtedly an issue that plagues the minds of those living with
children or adults who are severely disabled. Rarely is one found to have a
neutral’ outlook upon it; that is, a side must be chosen, for or against. It is
too delicate a topic to be in the middle’ about. Over the years, cases
involving euthanasia have caused massive controversies as to whether or not it
is feasible to take the life of another human being in order to put them out of
their misery’. One of the strong questions raised in my mind is: Does the killer
really want to put the victim out of their misery? Or is it the killer who is
under the extreme pressures of living with the victim, and is it their own
lifestyle that they are truly fed up with?
In the Robert Latimer case, as in many other cases of euthanasia, it can never
be proven whether or not Latimer killed his young daughter Tracy to save’ her,
or to save himself. While I have never experienced living with someone who is
severely disabled, I have had the chance to discuss the issue with many friends
and associates. From what I have learned, it is, indeed, an extremely tough
matter to deal with. While no-one I have spoken to has been suicidal over the
matter, they have seen the true pain and misery that some severely disabled
individuals are forced to deal with every day of their lives. Still, many agree
with myself on the point that a human life is just that, a human life; and that
everyone alive has the right to live, no matter whether or not it is under
tougher circumstances than another person. Nobody has the right to take the life
of another person, and technically, the law states that nobody has the right to
take their own life as well.
A severely disabled person may have to deal with much pain in their lives, but
they are entitled to the right of simply enjoying being alive, and denying them
that right would be an infringement upon their freedom. Latimer should have
taken the law into deeper consideration before taking his daughters life. He may
have seen the suffering that she went through, but it is evident that he had
some sort of strange love for his daughter. Indeed, he did want what was best’
for Tracy, but possibly what he was after was what he thought was best. He
valued her rights as his daughter, unfortunately he did not value her rights as
a human being.
As euthanasia is one of the most controversial issues in today’s society, up
there with abortion and the legalization of marijuana, there is a close 50/50
opinion base on the topic. Thus, it would seem either extremely difficult for a
jury to make a reasonable call on whether or not Latimer should have been guilty.
As stated in a Toronto Star article from November 19, 1994, “to acquit himwould
have put all disabled people in Canadaat rise of being killed by other who felt
they would be better off dead”. This raises an interesting point: would
completely unnecessary murders take place if euthanasia were legalized? Likely.
A killer with a good defence would attempt to prove that they killed a disabled
person to put them out of their misery, when indeed they may have had completely
different, perhaps personal reasons to murder the individual. Our system of laws
is right in finding that to legalize euthanasia would far a massive risk upon
the elderly, sick, and disabled of our society. This is a risk for which a law
should not have to take blame for, and changing this law would only encourage
As for Latimer’s sentence; this raises the ever-controversial question of how
can you put a price on a person’s life?’. Will ten years in prison change the
way Latimer feels about his actions? No is the most likely answer to the
question, as Latimer clearly stated “I still feel what I did was right”. So what
good is there in putting Latimer away for ten years? Should the sentence be a
harsher one? Possibly, euthanasia should be considered cold-blooded first-degree
style murder, with a full life sentence without parole. I feel that taking the
life of another human is cold-blooded, no matter how you look at it; thus, the
sentence should be that of a greater extent than the one that Latimer received.
In speaking with my parents about this issue, the term “doctor assisted suicide”
was mentioned several times. I felt from where I stand, that it was my duty to
make it clear that there is quite a difference between “doctor assisted suicide”
and the Latimer case. I feel that when a person clearly states that they wish to
be killed peacefully with the help of a professional is an enormously different
matter from a case like Robert Latimer’s, in which Latimer took it upon himself
to make the judgment call on his daughter Tracy’s life, and decided himself,
that she wished to die. He did not consider Tracy’s outlook on the situation.
Indeed, she was unable to communicate with him, and could not let him know how
she felt, but I feel that this in no way gave Latimer the right to decide for
himself that she wished to die.
It is said that many doctors have “played God” in committing doctor assisted
suicides; I believe that Robert Latimer attempted to “play God” when he took his
daughters life into his own hands and started making decisions on her behalf.
While I am in now way recommending suicide, it may have been a better route for
Robert Latimer in his situation. If he had so much rage for the love of his
daughter, and it had to be taken out via murder, I feel it would have been
better if he had taken his own life, as opposed to taking the life of Tracy, who
was simply an innocent girl with a problem beyond her own control.