Canadian Supreme Court Declares Both Euthanasia & Prescribed Suicide Legal

In a unanimous decision that essentially usurps the power of the Federal Parliament to make or change laws, the Canadian Supreme Court struck down the country’s longstanding ban on assisted suicide and overturned its own 22-year-old ruling declaring the ban constitutional. According to the Supreme Court justices, the Canadian Criminal Code’s assisted-suicide prohibitions “unjustifiably infringe” on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms “and are of no force or effect to the extent that they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.” [Carter v Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5, Case No. 35591, at 147, 2/6/15] By so ruling, the justices legalized both assisted suicide (where the patient commits the last act of self-administrating the lethal drugs) and euthanasia (where the doctor or another person commits the last act (e.g., giving a lethal injection). Moreover, the Court chose not to limit this new legal type of death to patients who are terminally ill or those experiencing physical pain or suffering. Now existential or psychological suffering also qualifies a patient for death. The Court suspended its ruling for twelve months to allow the Federal Parliament and provincial legislatures to enact “legislation consistent with the constitutional parameters set out” in the decision. [Carter, at 126] If the Federal Government opts not to pass such legislation—or more likely runs out of time due to a mid-October federal election and the...