Canada’s Supreme Court strikes Down Ban on Doctor-Assisted Suicide

Canada’s Supreme Court strikes Down Ban on Doctor-Assisted Suicide

Canada's Supreme Court struck down a ban on doctor-assisted suicide for mentally competent patients with terminal illnesses in Friday's ruling.

According to the court's judgment, the ban would deprive the patient from their dignity and autonomy. The Apex Court's unanimous decision is completely opposite to the decision it gave two decades ago.

The new decision provides legislators a year to draft new legislation that recognizes the right of consenting adults who are going through intolerable sufferings and want to end their life seeking medical help.

The judgment said the ban infringes on the life, liberty and security of individuals under Canada's constitution. It is considered illegal in Canada to counsel, aid or abet a suicide, an offense carrying a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

The ruling immediately triggered emotional responses from both sides of the debate. Justice Minister Peter Mackay said that the conservative government will take its time to act on the decision.

MacKay said, "This is a sensitive issue for many Canadians, with deeply held beliefs on both sides. We will study the decision and ensure all perspectives on this difficult issue are heard".

The decision was prompted by cases brought by the families of two British Columbia women, who have since died.

The court in its ruling even quoted one of the women's wishes. The women Gloria Taylor said that she do not want to die slowly and in pain.

Taylor was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative neurological illness also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Although she won a constitutional exemption at a lower court for a medically assisted death in 2012, but that decision was overturned in subsequent appeals. She died of an infection later the same year.

Grace Pastine of the civil liberties group said death-with-dignity advocates were quite happy with the court's ruling.

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