Canada’s Supreme Court strikes down ban on doctor-assisted suicide

Canadian Supreme Court, winter 2012. Image by: Themightyquill, Creative Commons

Todays ruling was unanimous (9-0). Canadian Supreme Court, winter 2012. Image by: Themightyquill, Creative Commons

Canada’s Highest Court issued a long-awaited ruling this morning on the controversial issue sometimes called “the right to die”.

As reported by the Canadian Press:

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously struck down the ban on providing a doctor-assisted death to mentally competent but suffering and “irremediable” patients.

The historic, groundbreaking decision from the country’s top court sweeps away the existing law and gives Parliament a year to draft new legislation that recognizes the right of clearly consenting adults who are enduring intolerable suffering — physical or mental — to seek medical help ending their lives.

The ruling comes with limits. As reported by CBC:

The Supreme Court of Canada says a law that makes it illegal for anyone to help a person commit suicide should be amended to allow doctors to help in specific situations.

The ruling only applies to competent adults with enduring, intolerable suffering who clearly consent to ending their lives.

Here’s more from Global news:

The court’s decision also confirmed that regulation over health care can be handled by both the provincial and federal government. Last year, Quebec passed its own medical aid in dying law.

It’s not the first time the Supreme Court has looked into the issue of assisted suicide. In 1993, the top court reviewed the case of Sue Rodriguez, who suffered from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and wanted to end her own life. In a split decision, the court upheld the law.

In the new ruling, the court found the breadth of the Charter has changed since the early 1990s. It also said the social landscape has evolved, because assisted dying is permitted in other places such as Belgium, Switzerland, and Oregon.

Friday’s case was originally brought forward by two B.C. women, who have both since died, who wished to end their illnesses with medical help.

This history of the issue in Canada comes from a pro assisted-death organization, Dying with Dignity.

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1 Comment on “Canada’s Supreme Court strikes down ban on doctor-assisted suicide”

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  1. bill shaver says:

    bravo, yes being able to die with dignity when nothing left…

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