In an August 10 ruling, Justice Jo-Ann Prowse of the British Columbia Court of Appeals, the highest court in the province, permitted ALS patient Gloria Taylor to retain a constitutional exemption allowing her to end her life by assisted suicide or euthanasia. Taylor was granted the exemption in June by Lynn Smith of the B.C. Supreme Court.
Prowse’s ruling also cancelled Smith’s order that the Parliament amend laws against assisted suicide by June 15, 2013. The appeal of Smith’s ruling with regard to striking down laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide will be heard by the B.C. Court of Appeal March 4-8 of 2013. Legal observers predict the case will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada thereafter.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is troubled that the constitutional exemption granted to Taylor was not stayed by the B.C. court. Alex Schadenberg, the coalition’s executive director, said, “the EPC is concerned that this court order may prompt other people with similar conditions to apply for a constitutional exemption to die by euthanasia before the Supreme Court and Parliament have ruled on the matter.”
Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, blasted the decision saying, “this constitutional exemption amounts to judges deciding who will live and who will die.”
Despite the exemption granted to Taylor, EPC legal counsel Hugh Scher noted that, “the existing laws prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide remain in effect.”
Should the matter be brought to the Supreme Court of Canada it won’t be the first time. In 1993, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canada’s assisted suicide legislation was constitutional.
Parliament, too, has recently endorsed the constitutionality of the law. In April 2010, Canada’s parliament overwhelming defeated a bill that would have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in a 228-59 vote.
Much of the debate in Parliament at the time centered on the likelihood of elder abuse that comes with legal euthanasia. Dr. Will Johnston, the B.C. chair of the EPC, commented on that aspect of the matter the August 10 ruling. “Most elder abuse is hidden from view – and if we can’t detect the abuse now, how are we going to do it when the stakes are raised?” asked Johnson. “I have seen how easily influenced older people can be, and how inadequate are our national strategies against suicide.”
The anti-euthanasia group is urging the Harper government to appeal the court order that maintains a constitutional exemption for Gloria Taylor to die by euthanasia. Schadenberg concluded, “it is not appropriate for any single judge to override parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law.”
A version of this article originally appeared August 10 at LifeSiteNews.com and is reprinted with permission.