Canada’s Supreme Court will hand down ruling on euthanasia and assisted suicide this Friday
OTTAWA, February 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- The Supreme Court of Canada will decide this Friday whether or not to open the doors to allow doctors to aid in the direct killing of patients for so-called compassionate, medical, or other reasons.
The Carter/Taylor case seeks to overturn Canada’s Criminal Code prohibition on euthanasia and assisted suicide. Currently, it is an offense to counsel or assist someone to commit suicide.
It was 22 years ago that the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the Rodriguez decision that prohibitions against assisted suicide and euthanasia are constitutional and legitimate in a free and democratic society.
The country’s highest court found at that time that the state had a “fundamental interest in protecting human life.” It argued that the state’s obligation to “protect the vulnerable” outweighed the rights of the individual to self-determination.
“[H]uman life must be respected and we must be careful not to undermine the institutions that protect it,” the court stated.
But the movement to allow doctors to kill their patients has gathered steam in the last 20 years. Mainstream media has done much in the past few years to move public sentiment towards embracing the so-called “right to die” through emotional stories of sickly and infirm individuals seeking help to secure their own death.
The euphemistically named “Death with Dignity” lobby has friends in high places, including British Columbia’s Supreme Court. In 2012, Justice Lynn Smith ruled against the country’s ban on assisted suicide, arguing that since suicide is technically legal in Canada, the ban on assisted suicide is “unconstitutional” because it prevents the disabled from getting the help they may need to kill themselves.
The case centered on Gloria Taylor, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2009. While Taylor made it clear she did not intend to kill herself at that time, she nevertheless wanted legal assurance that she could get such help if she ever wanted it. She has since died.
The Conservative government at that time appealed the decision, saying that the law against assisted suicide exists to “protect all Canadians, including the most vulnerable members of our society, such as those who are sick or elderly and persons with disabilities.”
The case wound its way through the courts until it arrived at the Supreme Court.
Life and family leaders fear the Supreme Court will not wholeheartedly uphold the Rodriguez decision, especially since Quebec has already effectively permitted euthanasia under the guise of “medical aid in dying.”
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told LifeSiteNews that he does not like to be pessimistic, but he believes the upcoming decision will in one way or another erode protections currently offered to vulnerable Canadians.
Catholic Civil Rights League president Phil Horgan shares Schadenberg’s concerns.
“I fear that it is likely that a variant of physician assisted suicide will be allowed in Canada in 2015. The federal government may be given an opportunity to consider a new law, as it was afforded in the case of prostitution in the Bedford decision from December 2013, but that will have to await the court’s current ruling,” he said.
Schadenberg indicated that any diminishing of the Rodriguez decision, despite the best of so-called ‘safeguards’ put in place, will eventually open the floodgates to a permissive regime of euthanasia practices, such as is currently happening in places like Belgium.
Belgium recently became the first country in the world to approve euthanasia for children who request it with parental consent.
A decision eroding Rodriguez would only add to the perfect storm brewing over life-affirming doctors whose conscience rights are on the chopping block by regulatory bodies in Ontario and Saskatchewan. If Rodriguez falls, doctors could be forced to offer death to their patients despite their own religious or moral objections.