Just two years ago, Canada’s Supreme Court decriminalized physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and euthanasia in its decision in Carter v. Canada. Now Canada is considering explicitly creating eligibility for PAS and euthanasia to those suffering from mental illnesses.
Last December a Canadian appeals judge ruled against the appearance of a provocative pro-life ad campaign on the exterior of municipal buses in Grand Prairie, Alberta. Justice C. S. Anderson stated in her decision, “Expression of this kind may lead to emotional responses from the various people who make use of public transit and other uses of the road, creating a hostile and uncomfortable environment.”
Death by euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is primed to take off in Canada, as Parliament passed Bill C-14 on June 17. The law, which establishes guidelines under which Canadians can receive assistance in killing themselves or be euthanized by medical personnel, received royal assent the same day. Royal assent can be supplied by the Governor General and does not denote approval by Buckingham Palace.
Despite advances in civil rights and the recognition by most developed nations that discrimination on the basis of sex alone is inherently unjust, a very real and pervasive form of sex discrimination is still permitted and practiced in the world today. Prenatal sex discrimination crosses cultural, ethnic, and national lines. It is practiced with impunity in many countries, including the U.S., via sex-selective abortion – choosing to abort a preborn child based solely on the child’s sex.
On February 5, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) voted unanimously to strike down the blanket prohibition on physician-assisted suicide (PAS) and euthanasia that was in place since 1992. The ruling of Carter v. Canada is historic in that it would permit assisted suicide for psychological illness as well as physical.
Because the SCC has not defined or limited what can be considered “psychological suffering,” many are concerned that the subjective language of the ruling makes it vulnerable to abuses. The closest “definition” for either psychological or physical conditions is that it be “grievous and irremediable (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”
In a decision today with serious international ramifications, Canada’s highest court has overturned an absolute ban on assisted suicide/euthanasia and has given Parliament one year to create a “stringently limited, carefully monitored system of exceptions.”
The decision was unanimous, 9-0, and it should be viewed as a victory for advocates of assisted suicide and euthanasia. The ruling chisels away at a prior understanding in Canadian law of human life—even difficult or painful life—as sacred.
In the policy interplay between the United States and Canada, Americans can expect that “right-to-die” activists will be very motivated to use this Canadian case as an example, just as Canadian activists pointed to the “success” of “aid-in-dying” laws in Washington and Oregon.
Late last week, a radical new Euthanasia bill passed into law by a free vote in the National Assembly in Quebec. The bill, Bill 52, passed Thursday afternoon, by a margin of 94 to 22 with no abstentions.
*Editor’s Note: Last week Dr. Henry Morgentaler, whose medical practice and activism led to the legalization of abortion in Canada, died at age 90. Andrea Mrozek reflects on Morgentaler’s impact on Canadian women and families. There’s some irony in the passing away of Dr. Henry Morgentaler. Regrettably, Morgentaler, whose name will forever be connected […]
A very disturbing story has recently come to light as it has been revealed that 491 babies were born alive during botched abortion procedures in Canada and then left to die in its immediate aftermath. These deaths took place between the years 2000 and 2009.
Earlier this week, the BBC reported on the story of Scott Routley, a Canadian man whom doctors have believed to be in a vegetative state for more than a decade. The report revealed that due to breakthroughs in the field of brain imaging, Scott has been, remarkably, able to communicate with his doctors and convey to […]