14. What’s the difference between withholding or withdrawal of treatment, and assisted suicide or euthanasia? Aren’t they the same thing?

There are several important differences.

  • When a person asks for medical treatment to be taken away (withdrawn) or not given (withheld) they are saying they don’t want to be touched, or want that “touching” to stop.  The right not to be touched has been recognized by many courts as a most basic and important right.
  • When a person asks for assisted suicide or euthanasia, they are saying they want something done to them.  People can ask for a medical treatment, but there is no charter right to any and every medical treatment they ask for.
  • Stopping a medical treatment doesn’t always mean the person will die, or that death is intended.  The person’s condition could get better, and the person still has the chance to change her mind.  Assisted suicide and euthanasia are intended to make the person die, and that is the most likely outcome because a poison is added to the person’s medical problems in order to kill her.