Canadian Supreme Court opens very narrow door to doctor-prescribed death
What’s at Stake:
- The protection of all lives, including the most vulnerable
- The protection of medical professionals from being forced to take lives
For thousands of years, the mandate of medical practitioners all over the world has been to protect lives, not take them. Yet in the Canadian province of British Columbia, a battle has been fought in the courts to uphold the country’s laws against doctor-prescribed death.
In 2012, British Columbia’s Supreme Court made a ruling which partially struck down Canada’s laws against doctor-prescribed death. Recognizing that these laws protected the lives of all Canadians, including the most vulnerable, the Attorney General appealed the court’s decision. The British Columbia Court of Appeal also recognized the importance of these laws, so struck down the lower court’s decision in 2013, fully upholding Canada’s laws against doctor-prescribed death. But this decision only stood for a short time before it came under scrutiny.
The following year, the Supreme Court of Canada decided to review the British Columbia Court of Appeal’s ruling. The court’s decision followed in 2015, in which it partially struck down Canada’s total prohibition on doctor-prescribed death. This left a very narrow door open for assisted suicide in some circumstances. The court left it for Parliament to decide what circumstances these should be. However, the Supreme Court did put some important restrictions in place. Crucially, it protects medical professionals from being forced to take lives, something that a number of Canadian provinces were attempting to do.
The fight for the right to life in Canada is ongoing, and requires sustained effort by those who seek the protection of all lives, especially the most vulnerable. ADF International allied attorney Gerald Chipeur QC represented clients supporting Canada’s existing laws, and ADF International provided funding to protect the provisions in Canadian law that uphold the right to life.
Our Role in the Case
ADF International provided funding to protect the provisions in Canadian law that uphold the right to life.