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Canada government to appeal assisted suicide ruling

The Canadian government on Friday announced that it will appeal [press release] the decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia [official website] striking down a ban on physician-assisted suicides. The Honourable Rob Nicholson [official website] for Niagara Falls, the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada made a public statement about the planned appeal in the case of Lee Carter and Hollis Johnson et al. v. Attorney General of Canada [judgment], noting that the government will seek a stay of the lower court's decision. Nicholson stated that the government views the provisions of Canada's Criminal Code [text] that forbid physician-assisted suicide as constitutionally valid:

The laws surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide exist to protect all Canadians, including those who are most vulnerable, such as people who are sick or elderly or people with disabilities. The Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged the state interest in protecting human life and upheld the constitutionality of the existing legislation in [the 1993 Rodriguez case].
The government will bring forth its additional claims before the British Columbia Court of Appeal [official website] in the near future.

Justice Lynn Smith for the Supreme Court of British Columbia had ruled last month that the provisions of Canada's Criminal Code unjustly violate the rights to life, liberty and equality. She reasoned that physician-assisted suicide could be executed safely [JURIST report] if adequate safeguards were in place. Opinions regarding the right to die [JURIST news archive] have been sharply divided around the world. In May the Louisiana legislature passed a bill [JURIST report] strengthening the state's ban on euthanasia. Earlier that month Georgia Governor Nathan Deal [official website] signed legislation banning assisted suicide [JURIST report] in the state. In 2011 an India high court ruled passive euthanasia was permitted [JURIST report] under certain circumstances, but rejected a petition for a mercy killing. In 2010 a German court ruled that removing a patient from life support is not a criminal offense [JURIST report] if the patient had previously given consent. In 2009 the Italian president refused to sign [JURIST report] a government decree stopping the euthanasia of comatose women because it would violate the separation of power overturning a previous court ruling.

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