Leading Up to the August Decision
Just over a year ago Taylor joined the B.C. Civil Liberties Association’s suit challenging laws that criminalize assisted suicide. Because of her precarious health, the B.C. Supreme Court agreed to hasten the proceedings. Originally scheduled for spring 2012, the were moved to November 2011.
In June 2012 Gloria Taylor won the right to ask for a physician’s assistance to end her suffering. Judge Lynn Smith granted an exemption to the ban against assisted suicide because of Taylor’s rapidly deteriorating condition. At the same time, she gave the federal government a year to re-write the legislation.
The Government of Canada chose to appeal Judge Smith’s decision. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson wrote:
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 Rodriguez (1993).
Opposing Reactions to the Decision
In an interview reported in the Vancouver Sun, Taylor’s lawyer, Sheila Tucker, said:
We’re particularly pleased with the fact that the court was very cognizant of the fact that, for Gloria, it really is a case of irreparable harm, because she’ll either get to use that exemption and have the value of that exemption now, or she never will.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, one of the groups to speak out against the decision, said:
It is inconceivable that a judge can order death by assisted suicide for Gloria Taylor, which is prohibited by the criminal code, after parliament overwhelmingly rejected assisted suicide in April 2010 by a vote of 228 to 59, and after the Supreme Court of Canada decided in 1993 that Canada’s assisted suicide was constitutional.
Allowing Taylor the right to decide the timing of her death is quite different from ordering it. Stringent safeguards should she decide to exercise her option.
Next: Justice Shows Compassion
Photo credits: Thinkstock
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.