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Robert Latimer

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Euthanasia and the Canadian LAW: Robert Latimer

Robert Latimer, a farmer working in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan killed his 12 year old daughter Tracy in 1983. Latimer admitted he loved his daughter and killed her to the police. He said he couldn’t bear to watch Tracy suffer from a severe form of cerebral palsy. Thus causing Latimer to kill his daughter and “free her from misery”. Latimer was charged of first-degree murder and a year later convicted of second-degree murder.

This case arose many legal questions including: * Should courts abide by the book or the situation of the accused? * Would a decision favorable to Latimer legalize euthanasia? * Would it put the disabled in danger?

The decision of this trial would determine the fate of the disabled. Any leniency towards Latimer would suggest the disabled are regarded as second-class citizens. Other laws such as abortion were referred to the deliberation of this case. The case soon became complex as the idea of ‘compassionate homicide’ vs. ‘cold-blooded murder’ proceeded. After that idea, Latimer was later given a constitutional exception in 2008 due the case being labeled as ‘compassionate homicide’ and the fact that the accused poses no threat in society. Plus, Latimer had killed his daughter for altruistic reasons.

Before Latimer’s constitutional exception, it was taken in consideration that Tracy was a relatively a merry child and her rights had been violated by her father. Although, Tracy’s life was very limited it still had quality and value. In the end, Latimer was ultimately released on 2008 with his constitutional exception. Latimer’s leniency did not degrade the disabled since related cases such as battered women who killed their batterer often received leniency from the courts.

Laws affecting the outcome of this case may change future laws. Euthanasia, mercy killing, or doctor assisted suicide is currently illegal. The outcome of this case suggests it is ‘ok’ to kill people who are terminally ill. Quebec’s Bill 52 would perhaps reference this case to support their idea of ‘medical aid in dying’. People terminally ill from overlooking at this case may ask for leniency to die. In other words, ask for legalization of euthanasia. The decision of this case strongly supports Quebec’s Bill 52 and is most likely to be overlooked.

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