KELOWNA – It’s a case of life and death that raises questions about what is legal and ethical. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday to strike down the country’s laws against assisted suicide. In a unanimous 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court ruled the Criminal Code laws prohibiting physician-assisted death infringes Section 7 of the Charter, which states that everyone has right to life, liberty and security of the person. The case was brought forward by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA).
“We are absolutely overjoyed by the ruling,” says Grace Pastine, BCCLA Litigation Director. “This is such a tremendous victory for the protection of human rights and compassion at the end of life.”
However one local group is speaking out about the landmark decision. Marlon Bartram, Executive Director of the Kelowna Right to Life Society, says he’s disappointed with the ruling.
“We are an organization that promotes and educates on the dignity of the values of all human beings, all human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death and this decision by the Supreme Court is certainly a contradiction to our philosophy,” says Bartram.
He says instead of assisted suicide, there should be improved support for the terminally ill.
“Compassion, love and palliative care. That’s what we advocate for. We don’t believe that killing a person or helping them kill themselves is an appropriate response,” he says.
The ban on assisted suicide won’t be lifted for another year. Bartram says that isn’t enough time to draft effective legislation. For its part, the BCCLA says it will keep a close watch on how the law is put to paper over the next 12 months.