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Euthanasia

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Brendan Gajjar

on 1 November 2012

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Transcript of Euthanasia

assisted suicide Euthanasia; Facts: Rodriguez applied to B.C. SCC for a declaration that s.241(b) of the Criminal Code infringed her rights under s.7, 12 and 15(1) of the Charter. Application rejected, subsequent appeals to the B.C Court of Appeal and the SCC were dismissed.

Rodriguez suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrigs disease with a life expectancy of 2-14 months and her condition is rapidly deteriorating. She will lose the ability to swallow, speak, walk and move her body. She will lose the capacity to breathe without a respirator; eat without a gastronomy and will eventually be confined to a bed. Rodriguez knows her condition and the inevitability of her death. She would like to control when she dies, when she feels she doesn't have the capacity to enjoy life. Wants a medical practitioner to set up technological means in which, when she chooses, end her life. Rodriquez v. B.C Attorney General 1) Is s. 241(b), which makes it an offense to assist a person to commit suicide, invalid under the Charter?

2) Does s.241(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada infringe or deny, in whole, or in part, the rights and freedoms guaranteed by s.7, 12, and 15(1) of the Charter?

3) If so, is it justified by s.1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and therefore not inconsistent with the Constitution Act of 1982?

Decision: Supreme Court of Canada dismissed appeal. (5:4). Issues -s.241(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada speaks to the criminal offense of; Everyone who aids or abets a person to commit suicide.
-s.7; everyone of the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived therefor accept in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
-s.12; everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
-s.15(1); every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental physical disability.

Rodriguez was denied assisted suicide because they felt that s.241(b) of the criminal code did not infringe or deny in whole or in part the rights and freedoms guaranteed by ss.7, 12 and 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They felt that s.1 of the Charter justified ss.7 and 12, however, they noted that an infringement of ss.15(a) was assumed but not significant enough to rule in her favor. Ratio Pro's:
• It provides a way to relieve extreme pain
• It provides a way of relief when a person's quality of life is low
• Frees up medical funds to help other people
• It is another case of freedom of choice
• It puts the family and friends out of misery and often gives them more closure Pro's and Con's What is Euthanasia? The painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma.
OR
The practice of intentionally and painlessly killing a human being or animal for humane reasons, especially in order to end great suffering or poor quality of life; An easy death, or the means to bring about such a death.

Focus of discussion:
Rodriquez v. The B.C General and Carter v.
the The Attorney General of B.C By: Karleigh, Brendan, Kelsey, Alan, Nicolle, Zee, Edric, and Rudy Reasons 1) Yes, by denying her to the right to end her life when it was unbearable for her, also denied her of her rights and freedoms laid out in the Canadian Charter.

2) No, except to s.15 in respect of which an infringement is assumed.


3)As to s.7 and 12 no answer is required. As to s.15, yes.
Con's:
• Euthanasia devalues human life
• Physicians and other medical care people should not be involved in directly causing death
• There is a "slippery slope" effect that has occurred where euthanasia has been first been legalized for only the terminally ill and later laws are changed to allow it for other people or to be done non-voluntarily.
• Individual autonomy is violated as some are forced to continue living even when their lives are no longer worth living to them, and they are forced to die in ways not of their choosing.
• Some individuals may die earlier than they would if assisted suicide and euthanasia were not subject to such dire legal consequences "At present, Euthanasia and assisted suicide are clearly prohibited under the Criminal Code s.7. Euthanasia is murder, and a conviction for murder carries a mandatory minimum life sentence, with no possibility of parole for 10 (for second degree murder) or 25 years (for first degree murder)."

We found that Euthanasia will always be a controversial topic, because when it comes to life or death it is hard to find a consensus. Although we acknowledge that Euthanasia is legal in some parts of the world it is still illegal for the most part. Therefore we have concluded that nothing has changed in regards to the view of Euthanasia since 1993, when the Rodriguez case was presented. Societies View Carter v. Attorney General 2012 On June 15, 2012, the Supreme Court of British Columbia rendered its long-awaited decision in Carter v Canada (Attorney General), a case that considers whether a full prohibition on assisted suicide is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Under section 241(b) of the Criminal Code, assisting someone to commit suicide is prohibited - a criminal offense. Justice Lynn Smith ruled that this “absolute” prohibition is contrary to two rights guaranteed by the Charter: (1) the equality guarantee in section 15; and (2) the right to “life, liberty and security of the person” in section 7. The prohibition is “absolute” because it does not allow for any exceptions, even in limited circumstances. Facts 1. Is the ban on assisted suicide in section 241(b) of the Criminal Code contrary to section 15 of the Charter, which guarantees the right to equality?
a. If so, is the infringement a reasonable limit that is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society under section 1 of the Charter?
2. Is the ban on assisted suicide contrary to section 7 of the Charter, which guarantees the right to life, liberty, and security of the person except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice?
a. If so, is the infringement a reasonable limit that is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society under section 1 of the Charter?
3. If there is an infringement of either section 15 or section 7 of the Charter that cannot be justified, what is the appropriate remedy? Issues The Court concluded that the law, which is an absolute prohibition on assisted suicide (i.e. a prohibition without exceptions), is an infringement of Ms. Taylor’s right to equality and her right to life, liberty, and security of the person. The infringement is not justified under section 1 of the Charter. Further, the law is an infringement of Ms. Carter and Mr. Hollis’ right to life, liberty, and security of the person, and this infringement is also not justified.
As a result, the Court struck down the law and declared it invalid. However, the Court declared that the applicable sections of the Criminal Code would not be struck down immediately. It gave Parliament one year – a period of time to allow it to respond and enact new laws. In the meantime, Ms. Taylor was granted a “constitutional exemption” – a court order that allows her the option of physician-assisted death under several stipulated conditions without risk of exposing someone to criminal charges. Decision Why is Euthanasia Such a Difficult Issue? Carter Decision and the SCC We believe the Supreme Court of Canada will support the decision of the Supreme Court of BC The current Euthanasia legislation, with its absolute prohibition on assisted suicide, is "overbroad" and "grossly disproportionate to the objectives it is meant to accomplish" Plaintiffs:
1. Gloria Taylor, who suffers from a fatal, neurodegenerative disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as “ALS”)
2. Lee Carter and her husband Hollis Johnson, who helped Ms Carter’s mother to arrange an assisted death in Switzerland, knowing that providing this assistance could expose them to criminal charges in Canada;
3. Dr William Shoichet, a BC-based family doctor who would be willing to participate in physician-assisted dying if it were no longer illegal and he was convinced that it was appropriate medical care in the circumstances
4. BC Civil Liberties Association

Case centered around Ms. Taylor, who wants a physician assisted death when she is no longer able to move, and when she deems her life unbearable due to pain caused by ALS. She argued that an "absolute prohibition" of assisted suicide infringed upon her equality rights, and her rights to life, liberty, and security of the person. The Section 7 and 15 infringements cannot be justified under section 1 of the charter Euthanasia law initially created to protect the most vulnerable people in our society, those who may not have the mental capability to make decisions on their own. Also, to maintain the value of human life in our society. Section 241(b) should be altered by parliament, allowing euthanasia to take place in Canada. Safeguards will be created to ensure that assisted suicide is not used in the wrong fashion or in bad faith. Unplugging a machine causes a 'natural' death, whereas aiding a person to commit suicide can be seen as 'homicide'. This makes legislation fearful of permitting the act of Euthanasia because the line becomes blurred between the two.

Depriving security of person - The states interest can be barely enhanced or not at all if the individual dies. Their rights would have been deprived for no valid purpose. Combats fundamental justice.

In the same way we see capital punishment, the state does not want to devalue human life, and that the state will serve as a role model for people in our society.

Respect for human dignity is found in many areas of the Rights and Freedoms of the Charter. Dignity may be robbed by not permitting someone to take their own life.

S.241(b) is aimed at the protection of the vulnerable. Some may be induced to commit suicide in times of weakness. If the state upholds respect for life, those who consider life unbearable at that moment in time may be discouraged from committing suicide.

Principle of sanctity of life - No longer required that human life be preserved at all costs. Life considerations, limitations, personal autonomy, dignity.

Cannot condone euthanasia - intrinsically morally and legally wrong, to prevent abuse only by enacting a prohibition. Differing Decisions in the Rodriguez/Carter Cases Rodriguez:

The judges found that s.241 (b) of the Criminal Code do not infringe or deny the rights and freedoms in sections 7 and 12 and 15, except where infringement is assumed in regards to s. 15.
S.1 was found to not need to justify (not be answered) sections 7 and 12. Section 15 was found to be justified by s.1 and was not inconsistent with the constitution act, 1982.

For s.15, the Chief Justice found that disabled people unable to commit suicide without help are discriminated against s.15, because they are deprived or a benefit of s.241(b).
For s. 12, and s.7, they do not need to be addressed. s.7 addresses the appelant's security issue (life and liberty), and must determine if there has been any deprivation of it that is not in accordance with the fundamentals of justice. s.12 addresses peoples rights to not be subjected to cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. The appellant attempted to say that prohibition on assisted suicide had the effect of imposing her cruel punishment because of prolonged suffering. However, there must be some active state control over the individual in order to constitute treatment. Carter:

The opposite was found. Sections 7 and 15 were found to not be justified under s.1. The courts found Mrs. Taylor competent, free from duress, fully-informed, and non-ambivalent enough to determine she could seek out an approved physician-assisted suicide. -s.241(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada speaks to the criminal offense of; Everyone who aids or abets a person to commit suicide.
-s.7; everyone of the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived therefor accept in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
-s.12; everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
-s.15(1); every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental physical disability.

Rodriguez was denied assisted suicide because they felt that s.241(b) of the criminal code did not infringe or deny in whole or in part the rights and freedoms guaranteed by ss.7, 12 and 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They felt that s.1 of the Charter justified ss.7 and 12, however, they noted that an infringement of ss.15(a) was assumed but not significant enough to rule in her favor.
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