- Jul 19, 2013
CBC: Supreme Court allows doctor-assisted suicide in specific cases
People with grievous and irremediable medical conditions should have the right to ask a doctor to help them die, Canada's highest court says in a unanimous ruling.
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.
The court has given federal and provincial governments 12 months to craft legislation to respond to the ruling; the ban on doctor-assisted suicide stands until then. If the government doesn't write a new law, the court's exemption for physicians will stand.
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The case was brought by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association on behalf of two women, Kay Carter and Gloria Taylor, both of whom have died since the legal battle began. Both women had degenerative diseases and wanted the right to have a doctor help them die.
A lawyer on behalf of Carter and Taylor argued that they were being discriminated against because their physical disabilities didn't allow them to kill themselves the way able-bodied people could.
Carter went to Switzerland with her daughter, Lee, to die. Taylor died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2012.