Bouncing boundaries and breaking boundaries: the case of assisted-suicide and criminal law in Canada

New bio-technologies are currently forcing medicine to cross boundaries that might have seemed insuperable sometime ago. Specifically, they now help to prolong human life beyond its natural process and to maintain it almost indefinitely. Consequently, death takes on new meanings. For some it simply...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Martel, Joane (Author)
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 1998
In: Crime, law and social change
Year: 1998, Volume: 30, Issue: 2, Pages: 131-162
Online Access: Volltext (lizenzpflichtig)
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Summary:New bio-technologies are currently forcing medicine to cross boundaries that might have seemed insuperable sometime ago. Specifically, they now help to prolong human life beyond its natural process and to maintain it almost indefinitely. Consequently, death takes on new meanings. For some it simply appears like an eventuality that can be postponed while, for others, death become synonymous to extended suffering, to dehumanization and to anguish. This apprehension gives rise to a wave of compassion for the dying person which is being translated into a new discourse around the notions of "quality of life" and "dying with dignity". In this movement, the question of assisted suicide resurfaces. Through an extensive study of the Sue Rodriguez case in the Supreme Court of Canada (1993), the author shows that this particular case forced the Canadian society to rethink some of its long-standing socio-legal boundaries. First, the current social debate on assisted suicide poses new demands on Criminal Law, particularly on the judicial tradition since the courts are presently ill-equipped to respond to cases which demand to give content to new "human rights" that do not yet have a legal substance. Second, the Rodriguez case revealed the emergence, on the judicial and political scenes, of certain community groups that restructures the traditional power relations linked to the social regulation of assisted suicide. Finally, the study shows a change in the boundaries surrounding the accepted use of Criminal Law toward an administrative (risk management) rather than punitive use.
Item Description:Literaturverzeichnis: Seite 160-162
Physical Description:Diagramm
ISSN:1573-0751
DOI:10.1023/A:1008301804495