Assisted suicide and euthanasia are back in Canada’s highest court.
Twenty years ago the learned judges rejected the claim that there was a right to assisted suicide. Sue Rodriguez, in the early 1990s challenged the prohibition of the criminal code to assist and counsel someone to commit suicide.
In 2012 the BC Civil Liberty Association took up the case of Kay Carter who went to Switzerland to have herself killed by assisted suicide. Her family then claimed that the law in Canada is unconstitutional. Her case was augmented by Gloria Taylor who was seeking the right to assisted suicide.
Justice Lynn Smith of the BC Supreme court presiding over the case decided that Canada’s law, which is meant to protect vulnerable people, was unconstitutional because it denied equality for people who are physically incapable of killing themselves.
She also ruled that Canada needed to legalize euthanasia for similar cases, and claiming that with safeguards in place there in no concern of abuse. She totally ignored the fact that people in Holland and Belgium are euthanized without their consent or specific request. People over the age of 70 who are tired of living qualify. It started as only the terminally ill could request imposed death.
A change in the law would put pressure on the frail and elderly to avail themselves of this newfound “self termination.” Scarce health-care resources could be cut for those most in need.
Most doctors are opposed to killing their patients, according to a recent survey of 4,800 members of the Canadian Medical Association. It found that 36.3 per cent support the legalization of euthanasia, and 44.8 per cent support assisted suicide. The focus must be on palliative care. Death once invited leaves it’s muddy footprints.