Assisted suicide ban ruled constitutional
VANCOUVER—Canada’s ban on assisted suicide has been upheld in British Columbia’s Court of Appeal, leaving those arguing for the right even more determined to fight for people facing an “unbearable dying process.”
Minutes after the split decision was released yesterday, a lawyer for the respondents in the case announced they would seek leave to appeal in the Supreme Court of Canada.
The challenge was launched by various plaintiffs including Gloria Taylor, who suffered from ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and the children of Kay Carter, who travelled to Switzerland to seek doctor-assisted suicide in 2010.
Two of the three judges ruled that while the law banning assisted suicide certainly has evolved in the last two decades, it hasn’t changed enough to undermine the 1993 decision from the Supreme Court of Canada.
Both judges agreed the position of the plaintiffs was sympathetic and honest.
“Yet the societal consequences of permitting physician-assisted suicide in Canada—and, indeed, enshrining it as a constitutional right—are a matter of serious concern to many Canadians,” the ruling said.
Pastine said her clients were deeply disappointed by the ruling.
“What this means is that, at least for the moment, seriously and incurably ill individuals will continue to suffer against their wishes at the end of life without the choice and the dignity that they deserve,” she remarked.
The federal government appealed the decision from the B.C. Supreme Court, which ruled last year that safeguards could be put in place to protect against the risks associated with doctor-assisted dying.
The lower court suspended its ruling for a year to allow the federal government to respond.