[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] on Friday unanimously struck down [judgment] the country’s ban on medically assisted suicide. The court found the provision in Canada’s Criminal Code [text] that criminalized the aiding and abetting of suicide efforts unconstitutional under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text]. The court explained that denying citizens the ability to acquire physician-assisted death would infringe their rights to life, liberty and security. Furthermore, the court stated that the prohibition on assisted suicide goes against the principles of fundamental justice by employing a too-broad interpretation of a provision that was meant to protect vulnerable people from being induced to commit suicide in a time of weakness. However, the court mad it clear that legally sanctioned assisted suicide requires the clear consent of a competent adult to the termination of their life, and that said person must be suffering a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring and intolerable suffering.
The legality of the right to die has been a topic of contention around the world. The present case has brought much discussion during its ascension through the lower courts, and has found both supporters and detractors [JURIST op-eds] of the right to die. In 2013 the Quebecois government introduced a bill [JURIST report] that sought to allow doctors to provide medical aid to patients that wished to end their lives. In 1994 Oregon became the first state in the US that passed legislation providing for legalization of assisted suicide, and saw it upheld [JURIST report] in 2006 by the US Supreme Court. In late January California senators introduced a bill [JURIST report] modeled after Oregon’s that would allow a terminally ill patient to end their life with medical assistance. On Wednesday patients and doctors filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] requesting a decision that would render assisted suicide legal under New York law.