VANCOUVER, British Columbia, June 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Last week, Justice Lynn Smith issued a decision striking down Canada’s law that prohibits assisted suicide as “unconstitutional.” What many do not know is that Justice Smith has a history of advocating for an anti-life agenda that long precedes her career in the judiciary.
Cecilia Forsyth, national president of REAL Women of Canada, says that given her background, Justice Smith’s decision is “not surprising”.
“She formerly held the position of President of the legal arm of the feminist organization, The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF),” Forsyth pointed out in a press release two days ago. “Entirely consistent with her liberal ideology, she struck down the restraints placed on the protection of the lives of vulnerable patients.”
Smith’s “liberal ideology” can be traced back at least 20 years. In 1991, she intervened in a Supreme Court of Canada appeal as the lead attorney for LEAF on behalf of two midwives who were convicted in a lower court of “criminal negligence” for their part in the death of a baby that died during delivery.
The case naturally raised the issue of the legal status of the unborn baby.
At that time, Smith successfully argued that a “foetus is not a ‘person’” within the meaning of the Criminal Code on the basis that “such a result would be inconsistent with the goal of sexual equality in the law.”
In her defense Smith argued that the midwives only harmed the mother, who survived, and not the baby, since “the fetus cannot be treated as legally autonomous from her as it is ‘in and of the mother’ until fully born.”
The attitude of pro-abortion Canadians, which is encapsulated in the oft-heard feministic refrain “my body, my choice”, is rooted in arguments such as the one advanced by Smith in this case.
“The legal status of the feotus—even of a full-term feotus—cannot be addressed without addressing the legal status of the woman in whose body it is,” Smith argued.
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Smith urged the Court that to “enhance women’s equality (rather than further entrench their inequality)” the Criminal Code must be interpreted so that “the status of the foetus is not considered apart from the woman who carries it.”
“[T]he feotus is not a ‘person’ within the meaning of section 203 of the Criminal Code, or any other kind of entity separate from the woman in whose body it is,” she said.
The Supreme Court followed Smith’s logic and ruled that an unborn baby is not a person for the purposes of the Criminal Code. The midwives were acquitted of the charge.
Opponents of assisted suicide, such as Alex Schadenberg from the Euthanasia Prevention Collation, point out that just as Smith’s focus on women’s rights blinded her to the humanity of the unborn baby, her focus on the autonomy of the individual has blinded her to the injustice of assisted suicide, which ultimately amounts to legalized murder.
“Remove the euphemism and assisted suicide is homicide,” wrote Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno on Monday. “Justifiable? B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith thinks so, with an alarming landmark interpretation of the Canadian Charter that would allow the extinguishing of lives.”
DiManno lambasted Smith’s manipulation of Section 7 of the Charter — the right to life, liberty and security — that allowed her to arrive at the pro-death verdict.
“It is radical inside-out rationalizing to turn right to life into right to death, with a tortured reading of the Charter to bless approval of murder in some circumstances,” said DiManno
“The judge may be an exceptionally wise person with a brilliant legal mind, but she displayed a shockingly poor grasp of some basic premises when challenging a government lawyer’s argument that life is sacrosanct and the state cannot condone the taking of a life. ‘But (the state) sends young men off to war,’ Justice Smith countered. That is an absurd analogy, seriously undermining Smith’s tall forehead bona fides.”
Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, accused Justice Smith of using “double-speak” to arrive at her verdict.
“The opinion is … written in double-speak, which means to say one thing and to mean another, sometimes the opposite,” Dore said. “Most centrally, the opinion bases the plaintiff’s ‘right to die’ on her ‘right to life’ in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These are opposite concepts.”
Cecilia Forsyth of REAL Women of Canada believes that Justice Smith has been “blinded by her ideological beliefs” and that she has “obviously either been unwilling or unable to grasp the long-range ramifications of her decision.”
Forsyth predicts a grim future, if the ruling is not overturned, where premature death will become the only visible horizon for the elderly and infirm.
“With the legalization of assisted suicide, patients will be made extremely vulnerable if they guiltily try to hold onto their lives despite concerns about their family. Our aging population, coupled with our already failing health care system, will only exacerbate the problems of gravely ill individuals.”
Dr. Will Johnston, chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Collation in British Columbia agrees with Forsyth’s concerns.
“Most elder abuse is hidden from view – and if we can’t detect the abuse now, how are we going to do it when the stakes are raised?” he said.
“I have seen how easily influenced older people can be, and how inadequate are our national strategies against suicide. The present decision, which should be immediately appealed and corrected, is a huge step backwards, a blow to public safety, and would force changes in public policy which would do more harm than good.”
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is calling on Canadians to urge Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to launch an appeal to the B.C. Court of Appeals.
The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8
E-mail: [email protected]