Tuesday’s recommendations follow a landmark report in Quebec from last March that suggested doctors be allowed in exceptional circumstances to help the terminally ill die if that is what the patients want.
It’s a debate that Canadians have grappled with for nearly two decades.
In June, Justice Lynn Smith, of the B.C. Supreme Court, ruled that current right-to-die laws are discriminatory and unconstitutional. She said the law’s provisions “unjustifiably infringe on the equality rights of Gloria Taylor and the rights of life, liberty and security of the person.”
In her ruling, Smith granted Taylor, 64, a constitutional exemption to proceed with physician-assisted suicide. However, no one else can avail of the exemption. She placed a 12-month suspension on her ruling to give Parliament time to write new legislation, or for the anticipated appeals.
In 1992, assisted suicide hit the national radar when Sue Rodriguez, a B.C. woman, fought all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada for the right to kill herself. Rodriguez, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, lost 5-4 in a split decision. She killed herself in 1994 with the help of an unidentified physician.