|06-16-2012, 03:42 PM||#1|
Join Date: Feb 2008
Assisted-suicide ban struck down by B.C. court
Judge rules law discriminates against the disabled
CBC News Posted: Jun 15, 2012
A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has declared Canada's laws against physician-assisted suicide unconstitutional because they discriminate against the physically disabled.
In a 395-page ruling released Friday, Justice Lynn Smith addressed the situation faced by Gloria Taylor, a B.C. woman who was one of five plaintiffs in the case seeking the legal right to doctor-assisted suicide.
Taylor has ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disease, and she sought the ruling to allow her doctor to help her end her life before she becomes incapacitated. The case was fast-tracked in August because of her illness.
In her ruling, Smith noted suicide itself is not illegal, and therefore the law against assisted suicide contravenes Section 15 of the charter, which guarantees equality, because it denies physically disabled people like Taylor the same rights as able-bodied people who can take their own lives, she ruled.
The impact of that distinction is felt particularly acutely by persons such as Ms. Taylor, who are grievously and irremediably ill, physically disabled or soon to become so, mentally competent and who wish to have some control over their circumstances at the end of their lives," Smith writes.
"The distinction is discriminatory … because it perpetuates disadvantage."
Smith also says the law deprives both people like Taylor and those who try to help them of the right to life and liberty guaranteed under Section 7 of the charter.
She argued the legislation could force a person to take their life sooner than they want to in order to kill themselves while still physically capable.
And Smith says the risk of incarceration denies the right of freedom to relatives who assist by taking their loved ones to jurisdictions where physician-assisted suicide is legal.
The effect of the ruling will not be immediate, because Smith suspended it for one year in order to give Parliament time to take whatever steps it sees fit to draft and consider new legislation.
But in the meantime, Smith granted Taylor a constitutional exception to seek physician-assisted suicide if she chooses to end her life.
[ full article @ CBC.ca ]
Awe at my magnificent coq!
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