Questions remain as debate begins on assisted suicide

This article was published by Advocate Daily on March 4, 2015.

By Hugh Scher, EPC legal counsel

Hugh SCher

Hugh SCher

As Parliament considers the implications of the landmark Supreme Court decision striking down the ban on assisted suicide, it must consider implementing the “notwithstanding clause” if it intends to protect vulnerable Canadians, says Toronto human rights and constitutional lawyer Hugh Scher.

The high court weighed in on the controversial topic in its much-anticipated ruling Feb. 6, which addressed a constitutional challenge to Canada’s assisted suicide law heard Oct. 15, 2014. It struck down the ban on providing a doctor-assisted suicide to mentally competent people experiencing an "irremediable'' condition, illness or disability and who are experiencing subjectively intolerable physical or psychological suffering. 

The SCC gave Parliament one year to change the law so the present ban on assisted suicide remains in place.

The case began with a lawsuit filed by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association in 2011, seeking to allow assisted suicide and euthanasia under certain circumstances.

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