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Supreme Court upholds right to demand life support

ABOVE: The family of a severely brain damaged man in Toronto is marking a victory, after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled doctors couldn’t turn off his life support. Jennifer Tryon reports.

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada says the courts are not the place to decide on whether doctors should pull the plug on a brain-damaged Ontario man.

In a split decision, the top court ruled the province’s Consent and Capacity Board is where that decision should be made.

The 5-2 ruling rejected an appeal from two doctors in Toronto, who argued they should unilaterally be able to end life support for 61-year-old Hassan Rasouli.

READ MORE: 16X9 feature ‘Waking the Brain’

They maintain keeping him alive is futile and contrary to their medical ethics and that life support was not a treatment because it could not make Rasouli better.

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But the high court found that life support is a form of treatment and that a dispute between doctors and patients cannot be settled by one side alone.

WATCH: Rasouli’s wife praises Supreme Court’s decision to keep husband on life support

His family fought the doctors’ efforts, arguing life is sacred and Rasouli shows some consciousness.

READ MORE: New research raises ethical questions over helping those in ‘vegetative’ state

Rasouli’s wife praised the high court decision as a victory not only for her husband, but for all of us, saying the spirit of God is inside everyone.

When asked what would happen if the doctors now took their efforts to withdraw life support from Rasouli to the consent board, she said she did not know.

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VIDEO: Pro-life advocates react to Supreme Court ruling