Appeal court upholds assisted-suicide ban 0
Gloria Taylor (R) is seen with her sister Patty Ferguson outside of the B.C Supreme Court, where she testified to challenge the law regarding assisted-suicide, in Vancouver, British Columbia December 1, 2011. Gloria Taylor suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease and was trying to change B.C's medically assisted suicide law. She died of natural causes in October of last year. (REUTERS/Ben Nelms)
B.C.’s appeals court has upheld the law banning physician-assisted suicide, overturning an earlier ruling that found the federal legislation unconstitutional.
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the plaintiffs’ representation in the case, said it would continue the fight in the Supreme Court of Canada.
“We will continue to argue that the government has no place at the bedside of seriously ill Canadians, denying the right to decide to those who have made firm decisions about the amount of suffering they will endure at the end of life,” Grace Pastine, BCCLA litigation director, said in a statement.
Gloria Taylor, a plaintiff who’d suffered from a terminal illness, was granted a constitutional exemption to seek doctor-assisted suicide after the B.C. Supreme Court struck down the law last year, and gave government one year before the decision would be in full effect.
Taylor died of natural causes in October last year.
In a split ruling Thursday, a three-judge panel said the earlier decision erred by not properly taking into account a 20-year-old court ruling. This regarded Sue Rodriguez who had sought assisted suicide but was denied by B.C. Supreme Court.
“It follows in our view that the trial judge was bound to find that the plaintiffs’ case had been authoritatively decided by (the case of) Rodriguez,” the decision explained.
The appeal court decision noted the Rodriguez case could be reviewed by Canada’s highest court and a “constitutional exemption” made for individuals “who are clear-minded, supported in their life expectancy by medical opinion, rational and without outside influence, and protected by a court process.”
It continued, “At the least, court approval of some kind should be sought in addition to the bare requirement of two medical opinions and a request from the patient.
“An application to a court could provide a perspective and a safeguard from outside the often overstressed health-care regime in which patients and physicians find themselves.”