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Canadian Supreme Court again to deliberate on doctor hastened death

CBC News reports extensively on the ‘wrenching’ debate at the Supreme Court of Canada over questions like whether starving oneself is a viable alternative to having a doctor help someone die. On October 15, 2014 the Court deliberated once again over whether the ban on doctor-hastened death should be struck down for all Canadians, and whether provinces and territories are constitutionally entitled to enact, as Quebec has done, laws permitting doctors to help patients kill themselves.The landmark case involves two B.C. women, Gloria Taylor and Kay Carter. Lee Carter and her husband, Hollis Johnson, launched the original lawsuit at the B.C. Supreme Court in 2011 on behalf of Lee’s mother Kay, who was suffering from a degenerative spinal condition that left her in chronic pain and unable to walk. Kay Carter died by assisted suicide in a clinic in Zurich, Switzerland, surrounded by family, after swallowing a lethal dose of barbiturates.

The lawyer representing Canadians in favor of physician-assisted death argued today that there’s little evidence a change in the law would result in a rush of people asking to end their lives. “Nobody wants to die if living is better,” said Joseph Arvay.

Robert Frater, arguing on behalf of the federal government, said that nothing has changed since the court considered the Rodriguez case and that all life is valuable and the government aims to protect it.

The court reserved its decision, which means it will likely be months before the ruling is released.

See CBC’s report here.

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