Assisted dying proposal a 'dangerous social policy experiment'

Hugh Scher

Hugh Scher

The following article was published by Advocate Daily on February 26, 2016

A parliamentary committee is endorsing a "dangerous experiment" in what would be the most wide-ranging assisted dying regime in the world without judicial oversight, says Toronto human rights and constitutional lawyer Hugh Scher.

“The suggestion of endorsing euthanasia for people with psychiatric conditions, for people who are depressed, for children, for people with psychological suffering — and doing it with absolutely no independent, objective, before-the-fact oversight by a court or tribunal to ensure powers are not abused — is extremely troubling,” says Scher, principal of Scher Law
“Effectively the government is suggesting the fox should be ruling the chicken coop and this notion is an extremely dangerous one,” Scher tells

The special parliamentary committee introduced the long-awaited recommendations on Thursdayas the federal government prepares to draft new legislation governing medical assistance in dying.

In Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5, the Supreme Court struck down the ban on doctor-assisted death last year. The government has until June to come up with a new law that recognizes the ability of clearly consenting adults who are enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to seek medical help in ending their lives.

Contrary to the Supreme Court ruling in Carter, the committee suggests that people diagnosed with incurable conditions likely to cause loss of competence, such as dementia, should be able to make advance requests for medical assistance in dying, the report says.

The committee says physician-assisted dying should be immediately available to competent adults 18 years or older and — after further consultations — should be expanded to include "mature minors'' within three years, something Scher and many suicide prevention experts find alarming.

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