Main | Monday, June 18, 2012

BRITISH COLUMBIA: Court Overturns Canada's Assisted Suicide Ban

British Columbia's provincial Supreme Court has overturned Canada's ban on assisted suicide.
Justice Lynn Smith of the British Columbia supreme court declared the laws invalid but suspended her ruling for one year to give Canada's federal parliament time to draft legislation with her ruling in mind. The federal government is expected to appeal against the decision. The case will likely go to the Canadian supreme court. Smith allowed the ailing Gloria Taylor, 64, to seek doctor-assisted suicide during the one-year period if she wants. Taylor was diagnosed in 2009 with Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, which progresses rapidly and is always fatal. Smith said the provisions in Canada's constitution infringed on Taylor's rights to life, liberty and security of person, and discriminated against grievously ill or physically disabled patients who wanted to have some control over their circumstances at the end of their lives. It has been illegal in Canada to counsel, aid or abet suicide and is punishable by up to 14 years' jail.
Canada's Euthanasia Prevention Commission believes a change will result in people killing their parents.
Most elder abuse is hidden from view – and if we can’t detect the abuse now, how are we going to do it when the stakes are raised? I have seen how easily influenced older people can be, and how inadequate are our national strategies against suicide. The present decision, which should be immediately appealed and corrected, is a huge step backwards, a blow to public safety, and would force changes in public policy which would do more harm than good.
In the United States, physician-assisted suicide is only legal in Oregon, Montana, and Washington state and there are significant restrictions on when it can be done.

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