Dying With Dignity Canada applauds the Supreme Court’s decision (read it here) to strike down Canada’s unjust and outdated legal ban on physician assisted dying. In a judgment released on Friday morning, justices on the high court ruled the absolute ban violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.The decision in Carter v. Canada comes as welcome news for Wanda Morris, CEO of Dying With Dignity Canada, the leading organization working to help Canadians avoid unwanted and unnecessary suffering at the end of life.
“We’re deeply heartened by the court’s compassion towards those who suffer unbearably or face the prospect of a horrific death,” said Morris. “This is a fantastic victory, and today we rejoice with the 84 per cent of Canadians who support the right to compassion and choice at end of life.”
Striking down the ban on assisted dying is a crucial step towards a future in which all Canadians are afforded the right to die with dignity, she said. “In our work, we field hundreds of calls every year from individuals who face the prospect of great suffering,” Morris said. “How wonderful is it that they may soon face that prospect with equanimity. They will know that, if worst comes to the worst, our medical system will not abandon them, but rather offer them choice.”
The occasion, Morris noted, is also bitter sweet because of the scale of tragedy and loss advocates for end-of-life choice have endured along the way.
“My thoughts turn to people for whom the decision came too late, men and women with conditions like Huntington’s Disease and ALS who ended their lives violently and prematurely because they feared their final wishes wouldn’t be carried out,” she said. “I also think of trailblazers like Sue Rodriguez and Gloria Taylor — women who, in their dying days, gave valiantly of their time and energy to bring about change. We are forever in their debt.”
The BC Civil Liberties Association explains the verdict in 900 words here.
Quebec ADMD gives out a press conference in French
Over the coming hours and days, DWD Canada will be examining the Supreme Court’s ruling in greater detail. The charity will soon be reaching out to its supporters to provide them with more information on the consequences of Friday’s decision.
“Today, we celebrate, but the real work begins tomorrow,” said Morris. “There is no guarantee that this wise and just decision will lead to wise and just legislation.”
She called upon policymakers across the country to craft assisted dying laws that privilege individual choice, promote equal access and guard against abuse.
“We’ll be working very hard to ensure that any laws that are passed uphold the spirit of the court’s decision,” said Morris. “Without proper legislation, people will continue to suffer unnecessary anguish when, as the Supreme Court has confirmed, another way is possible.”
Q&A, mede by DWD Canada on the verdict can be found here.