The Supreme Court of Canada and physician-assisted dying

  • May 16, 2015
  • Pierre Deschamps, C.M., Ad.E.

Note: This article was previously published in “Le Bulletin,” a weekly newsletter from CBA-Quebec.

On February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered a historic decision concerning the right of individuals in certain circumstances to request that a physician assist them in ending their life. In Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), the Supreme Court stated:

“Section 241(b) and section 14 of the Criminal Code unjustifiably infringe section 7 of the Charter and are of no force or effect to the extent that they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”

The Supreme Court has suspended the declaration of invalidity for 12 months, time in which Parliament and provincial legislatures can respond by enacting legislation consistent with the constitutional parameters set out in its reasons.

Please see the article in french for the full version (available in French only).

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