Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Assisted Suicide


Supreme Court of Canada to release assisted suicide decision on Friday

Editor’s note. By way of background, on October 15 the Supreme Court of Canada heard an appeal in the “Carter v. Canada” case which will determine whether the Criminal Code’s prohibition of assisted suicide is constitutional. The lawsuit was launched by the family of Kay Carter, a woman who died by assisted suicide in 2010 in Switzerland. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association is representing the Carter family.
The Carter family asserted that Kay was denied the “right” to die with dignity in Canada and that her family was forced to break the law by assisting her to travel to Switzerland.
On June 15, 2012, Justice Lynn Smith decided that Canada’s assisted suicide law was unconstitutional. The federal government appealed the decision of Justice Smith to the BC Court of Appeal.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal then found that Smith did not have the right to strike down Canada’s assisted suicide law and that she made several errors and incorrect assumptions in her decision. That decision, in turn, was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada which agreed in January 2014 to hear the appeal.
Kay Carter
Kay Carter
On Monday the Supreme Court of Canada announced it is releasing its decision in the Carter case concerning Canada’s laws that protect people from euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) has intervened in this case at every level.
EPC legal counsel Hugh Scher states:
“EPC is concerned about the safety, security and equality of people with disabilities and seniors, which is central to the protections set out under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our Criminal Code.”
British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith
British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith

EPC – British Columbia chair Dr Will Johnston states:
“This is an important public safety issue. The Court rejected assisted suicide in 1993 and prevented Canada from taking a wrong turn. In the 20 years since, human nature has not changed and people with disabilities and other vulnerable people are still at risk in our health care system. We are better at controlling symptoms, and we also see the abuses of euthanasia in those few jurisdictions where this practice has become entrenched.
Let us hope that the Supreme Court once again confirms the protections in law from assisted suicide and direct killing of the sick, and that we stay the course by improving symptom control to all who need it.”

Disability rights advocate Amy Hasbrouck of Toujours Vivant – Not Dead Yet states:
“People with disabilities, chronic illness and seniors are negatively affected by assisted suicide and euthanasia because it leads to the impression that our lives are lacking in meaning and value as compared to other Canadians.”

Source: NRLC News

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