The Court of Appeal for British Columbia [official website] on Thursday upheld [judgment] Canada's law against doctor-assisted suicide. Justice Lynn Smith for the Supreme Court of British Columbia had ruled [JURIST report] last year that the provisions of Canada's Criminal Code unjustly violate the rights to life, liberty and equality. She reasoned that physician-assisted suicide could be executed if adequate safeguards were in place. In a split 2-1 decision, the appeals court overturned the ruling of the lower court:
As the law now stands, there does not appear to be an avenue for relief from a generally sound law that has an extraordinary, even cruel, effect on a small number of individuals. Such individual relief is often referred to as a constitutional exemption. In the past that possibility existed in Canada. ... At the least, a court of law, unencumbered by previous judicial direction, accustomed to assessing issues of consent and influence, and with a perspective outside the (often overstressed) health care regime, should in our view be required to assess individual cases.The government of Canada had announced its intention to appeal last year's ruling [JURIST report] in July 2012. The case will likely be heard next by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Opinions regarding the right to die [JURIST news archive] have been sharply divided around the world. In May the Louisiana legislature passed a bill [JURIST report] strengthening the state's ban on euthanasia. Earlier that month Georgia Governor Nathan Deal [official website] signed legislation banning assisted suicide [JURIST report] in the state. In 2011 an India high court ruled passive euthanasia was permitted [JURIST report] under certain circumstances, but rejected a petition for a mercy killing. In 2010 a German court ruled that removing a patient from life support is not a criminal offense [JURIST report] if the patient had previously given consent. In 2009 the Italian president refused to sign [JURIST report] a government decree stopping the euthanasia of comatose women because it would violate the separation of power overturning a previous court ruling.