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Historical reaction Euthanasia

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Latimer case

            Robert Latimer, a Saskatchewan farmer, was sentenced, in November 1994, he received 10 years in prison without parole, for the murder of his daughter Tracy.  Tracy suffered from Cerebral Palsy, she was born on November 23rd, 1980 and she died October 23rd, 1993, by the hands of her father.

            R. Latimer indicated that he killed his daughter because he was afraid that the next surgery she was going to have to remove a permanently disconnected hip, will only add to Tracy’s suffering. Therefore it was a mercy killing.

            This case caused a big debate on mercy killings.  In 1997, R. Latimer went to the  Supreme Court were he and his lawyer used section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,  to plead not guilty.  Section reads: “Everyone has the right to on arrest to detention a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefore; b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed released if the detention is not lawful, of that right; and c)to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be.” This section also includes the Oaks test. R. Latimer was still found guilty.

            In 2001, the case was brought to the Supreme Court a second time upon which this time, R. Latimer and his lawyer pleaded innocence under section 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This section 12 reads: “Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment”.  He believed that he was not guilty for the murder of this daughter because it was an act based on mercy and that a 10 year sentence was too much, even though it is the minimal sentence given to convicted murderers.

            R. Latimer supporters believe that it was a mercy killing based on the belief that his daughter was suffering from the effect of Cerebral Palsy.  Even the jury believe that he should have only had one year in prison and have one year under house arrest at his farm near Wilkie, Saskatchewan.

            However not every one agrees on this case.  Advocates for the rights of disabled people say that killing a severely disable child like Tracy should count like another murder of a non-disable child.  If not it will make the life of disable child less valuable and many other killing will happen from the children caregivers.


Tracy and Robert Latimer