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Latimer Case.

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1 Latimer Case

2 The Case Tracy Latimer, 12 years old, was diagnosed with a severely debilitating disease, cerebral palsy, at birth Numerous orthopedic and soft tissue surgeries left Tracy in a state of constant pain Tracy was one of four children in the Latimer household She was cared for primarily by her family, she did attend school and received respite care

3 The Case Another surgery was offered that was not guaranteed to provide relief for Tracy, so her father, Robert, decided to end her life Shortly before the surgery, Robert placed Tracy in his running truck, connected one end of a hose to the exhaust, and fed the other end of the hose into the truck, killing Tracy

4 The Case Carbon monoxide inhalation is reported to sometimes cause flu-like symptoms including dizziness, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, weakness, headache, trouble breathing, heart fluttering, or increased blood pressure before the person dies. A person may also fall unconscious before experiencing any of these symptoms Robert Latimer stated that his reasoning for this method to end his daughter’s life was that he felt it was the most humane way

5 The Case Once Tracy died, Robert put her in her bed and waited for his family to come home Laura (Tracy’s mother) found Tracy dead in her bed and told her husband to call the authorities Robert had already destroyed any evidence (he cut up and burned the hose) and claimed that Tracy died in her sleep Laura claims she knew nothing of Robert’s plan to end Tracy’s life

6 The Case The authorities suspected foul play and sought an autopsy to confirm cause of death The appeal of an autopsy lead Robert to request cremation of his daughter’s body 10 days later, Robert confessed to killing Tracy Robert was charged with first degree murder, but was found guilty of second degree murder by a jury and sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison

7 Values in Conflict Nonmaleficence Beneficence Autonomy Justice

8 Maleficence Nonmaleficence
- “to not inflict harm on another individual” Maleficence - “the doing of evil or harm on another individual”

9 Maleficence Conflict in this case:
What was maleficent in this case? Was it justifiable for Robert Latimer to overrule the principle of nonmaleficence?

10 Maleficence Two primary possibilities:
If one’s pain and suffering is so severe, then taking no action is maleficent If killing one is the ultimate harm then therefore anything is better than death

11 Maleficence How could the family recover?
Can murder be non-maleficent? His choice of action? Carbon monoxide poisoning – did she fall asleep or did she experience distress prior to death (i.e., tachycardia, etc.)

12 Beneficence “to do the greatest amount of good”

13 Was Robert Latimer following the principle of beneficence?
Conflict in this case: Was Robert Latimer following the principle of beneficence?

14 Beneficence What good was done here?
- Ending a painful life in which Acetaminophen was the only pain control agent

15 Beneficence Murder is considered to be the greatest harm of all
- What was Robert Latimer's motive for ending Tracy's life? Overburdening caregiver vs. loving parent

16 Beneficence Is there a state when someone’s pain is so severe that death is a more favourable alternative?

17 Autonomy “Self-government; freedom to act or function independently”

18 Was Tracy Latimer’s autonomy taken into consideration?
Conflict in this case: Was Tracy Latimer’s autonomy taken into consideration?

19 Autonomy Euthanasia Voluntary Non-voluntary Involuntary

20 Autonomy Mentally Disabled
At what point, in a civilized society, do we make the decision for mentally handicapped individuals that their life, based on how we perceive it, is not worth living?

21 Justice Formal Substantive “Justified” Treating equals equally
Doesn’t mean to treat everyone the “same” Substantive Practical Fair distribution of resources among all people “Justified” warranted, necessary, defensible, reasonable, acceptable or correct

22 Was Tracy Latimer’s death “justified”?
Justice Conflict in this case: Was Tracy Latimer’s death “justified”?

23 Justice View 1: Robert Latimer was justified in killing Tracy because he, as her surrogate decision maker, exercised her “right to die” and freed her of a life of pain. View 2: Robert Latimer was unjustified in killing Tracy because his actions were inconsistent with her best interests, depriving her of future joyful experiences. Role of surrogate decision maker can be taken from the parent if their decisions aren’t in the child’s “best interests” e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses and blood transfusion

24 Justice Which view do you agree with?
Do you think Tracy’s death was justified or unjustified? Do you think justice was served given Robert Latimer’s sentence? One year in prison and one year in house arrest Do you agree that this act of murder should be labeled as “compassionate homicide”?

25 Discussion It is often wondered whether or not Robert Latimer would have acted in the same way if Tracy had the cognitive capacity of an average twelve-year-old, and capable of speech. Would it have been as easy to make such a grave decision on her behalf? Do you think the substantive aspect of justice (fair distribution of resources) applies in this case? What about those with other disabilities?

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