Canada agrees to hear appeal in right-to-die case

January 16, 2014

Canada's highest court said Thursday it will hear an appeal in a case that could grant terminally ill people the right to assisted suicide.

The case seeks to allow seriously and incurably ill but mentally competent adults the right to receive medical assistance to hasten death under specific safeguards, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association said in a statement.

It has been illegal in Canada to counsel, aid or abet a suicide, an offense carrying a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

The Supreme Court of Canada agreed to hear the appeal in the case of Gloria Taylor and Kay Carter, who were terminally ill. Taylor was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, a degenerative neurological illness. Carter was diagnosed with a degenerative spinal cord condition.

A justice with the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the existing federal law banning doctor-assisted suicide is unconstitutional because it discriminates against severely ill patients. However, the justice delayed her ruling for a year to allow the to rewrite the statute.

She also granted Taylor an exemption that allowed her to seek assisted death.

The provincial court of appeal overturned the ruling but let the exemption stand. Taylor died of an infection in October 2012.

Carter traveled to a clinic in Switzerland in 2010 to drink a toxic dose of sodium pentobarbital.

It has been nearly 20 years since the tale of another patient with Lou Gehrig's disease, Sue Rodriguez, gripped Canada as she fought for the right to assisted suicide. She lost her appeal but took her own life with the help of an anonymous doctor in 1994, at the age of 44.

The group is continuing the fight. It said Elayne Shapray, a woman with multiple sclerosis who is seeking the right to die with dignity, has joined the challenge to the existing law.

Proponents of argue that the Rodriguez ruling is outdated and that society's view of the issue has changed significantly.

Opponents argue that allowing assisted deaths could lead to abuses of the elderly and infirm.

The federal government argues that the Rodriguez ruling is the final word on the subject.

Explore further: Canada upholds law against assisted suicide (Update)

Related Stories

Canada upholds law against assisted suicide (Update)

October 10, 2013
British Columbia's appeals court overturned a lower court ruling Thursday that found Canada's law against physician-assisted suicide to be unconstitutional.

Canada to appeal ruling on assisted suicide

July 13, 2012
(AP) — Canada's justice minister says the federal government will appeal a British Columbia Supreme Court ruling that said federal laws banning doctor-assisted suicide are unconstitutional.

Canada court says suicide laws unconstitutional

June 15, 2012
(AP) — A British Columbia Supreme Court judge ruled Thursday that Canadian laws banning doctor-assisted suicide are unconstitutional.

Canadian doctor makes posthumous assisted suicide plea (Update)

September 25, 2013
A Canadian microbiologist who reassured a frightened nation during the 2003 SARS crisis, has ignited a controversial debate with a posthumous plea on Wednesday for assisted suicide.

Ruling will allow doctors to help patients die

January 14, 2014
Aja Riggs has undergone aggressive radiation and chemotherapy treatment for advanced uterine cancer. The 49-year-old remembers the feeling of her skin burning, the nausea and the fatigue so immense that even talking took ...

Assisted suicide _ Canada revisits an old debate

December 5, 2011
(AP) -- Confined to a wheelchair, in constant pain and unable to bathe without help, a 63-year-old grandmother has forced the issue of assisted suicide into Canadian courts for the third time in two decades.

Recommended for you

Group suggests pushing age of adolescence to 24

January 22, 2018
A small group of researchers with the Royal Children's Hospital in Australia is suggesting that it might be time to change the span of years that define adolescence—from the current 10 to 19 to a proposed 10 to 24 years ...

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.