This article was published by Advocate Daily on December 17, 2015
Recommendations in the report of the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying are an “irresponsible and dangerous approach” to the legalization and regulation of assisted suicide across Canada, says Toronto health, human rights and constitutional lawyer Hugh Scher.
The panel’s 43 recommendations, are a “startling display of a lack of informed understanding of the risks and harms associated with measures to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada,” says Scher. “They particularly reflect a complete lack of understanding of considerations such as vulnerability, depression and the requirement for fully informed decision-making based upon clear information and full options being presented to the patient.”
Among recommendations in the 134-page report that was received by federal health and justice ministers earlier this week, is that children 12 years of age or younger be eligible for assisted suicide or euthanasia,and included a series of options around euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The report comes while the Supreme Court of Canada is weighing the federal Liberals' request to delay the implementation of the court's decision in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5, which will be addressed by the top court at a hearing on January 11, 2016. The Feb. 6, 2015 ruling strikes down the country's Criminal Code ban on assisted suicide, but gave lawmakers 12 months to adopt new rules and to implement effective oversight and safeguards.
Scher represents the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, which acted as an intervener at all levels in Carter, and is also an intervener before the Quebec Court of Appeal in D'Amico, which is being heard tomorrow.