A Supreme Court Justice, Madam Lynn Smith, in Canada's province of British Columbia struck down a ban in that country on doctor-assisted suicide on Friday. She agreed with plaintiffs that preventing it was unconstitutional.
The case was brought by a group of plaintiffs, including 64-year-old B.C. resident, Gloria Taylor, who has ALS and would like to take her life with the assistance of her doctor. There's a ban in Canada on doctor-assisted suicide and though she struck it down, Justice Smith said her declaration of invalidity of the law must be suspended for one year so federal lawmakers can draft new legislation to deal with the issue.
Judge: law unconstitutional
To further complicate things, however, the judge gave Taylor an exemption to her suspension of the lifting of the ban. “She will be permitted to seek, and her physician will be permitted to proceed with, physician-assisted death under conditions," she wrote in her 395-page ruling. She also wrote that the law as it stood was "grossly disproportionate" to what it intended to do and that it could in fact affect Ms. Taylor's right to life.
“In addition, the legislation affects her right to life because it may shorten her life,” Smith wrote. “Ms. Taylor’s reduced lifespan would occur if she concludes that she needs to take her own life while she is still physically able to do so, at an earlier date than she would find necessary if she could be assisted.”
Appeal on suicide ruling
The provincial government told media that it is now up to the federal government to respond. The Vancouver Province newspaper wrote that in an email, Julie Di Mambro, press secretary for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, said the federal government would look more closely at the ruling before making a decision on an appeal.
Outside the courtroom an emotional Taylor, who says she's a devout Christian and does not believe God wants her to suffer, said the ruling allows her to "approach my death in the same way that I have tried to live my life, with dignity, independence and grace.’”