Assisted Suicide Ruling In Canada

Assisted Suicide - Euthanasia

Assisted Suicide - Euthanasia

Euthanasia in Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously ruled that the Criminal Code provision against aiding and abetting someone to commit suicide, unjustifiably violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court found that the criminal law deprives people, who are suffering from grievous and irremediable medical conditions, of the right to life, liberty, and security of the person.

It is important to note that the rule does not apply to “everyone” and “anyone”. The court limited the application to physician-assisted suicides to “a competent adult person who clearly consents to the termination of life and has a grievous and irremediable medical condition, including an illness, disease or disability, that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.” This will be the perimeter for who the rule applies to and when the rule applies.

What’s next for this unprecedented decision?

*Determining how this rule will be controlled and regulated.

Parliament and the provincial legislatures need to respond by enacting legislation consistent with the constitutional parameters set out in the decision. The government will most likely turn to the physicians’ colleges for direction and support, along with other interests groups. Considerations need to be made in assessing the Charter rights of both the physician and the patient. There are many groups who are advocating for a physician’s right to choose not to participate in the rule. The Canadian Medical Association has asked for a legislative scheme that will legally protect both the physicians who choose to provide this new intervention as well as the physicians who choose not to provide the new intervention.

 What happens in the meantime with Assisted Suicide Ruling?

*The rule is suspended.

 The Court has suspended the declaration (or decision) for one year. In essence, the court pushed the “pause” button on the new rule. This suspension provides time for Parliament to figure out how to regulate and control the decision. The court has made it clear that there will be no exceptions allowed during this suspension time; Canadians will need to wait a little bit longer for assisted suicide.

Amy MacAlpine is a Wills & Estate lawyer at Hummingbird Lawyers LLP. to get in touch with her please fill out the form.

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    Amy MacAlpine is a partner at Hummingbird Lawyers. She supports clients in the areas of Wills and Estates, Litigation, and Family Law.

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