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Medicine Canada Government

Canadian Supreme Court Rules Ban On Assisted Suicide Unconstitutional 231

BarbaraHudson writes with word that Canada's Supreme Court has issued a strong statement in defense of Canadians' right to choose assisted suicide: [A] judgment, which is unsigned to reflect the unanimous institutional weight of the court, says the current ban on assisted suicide infringes on all three of the life, liberty and security of person provisions in Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It does not limit physician-assisted death to those suffering a terminal illness. The court agreed with the trial judge "that a permissive regime with properly designed and administered safeguards was capable of protecting vulnerable people from abuse and error. While there are risks, to be sure, a carefully designed and managed system is capable of adequately addressing them." Parliament has one year to enact new legislation modifying the Criminal Code to conform to the judgment.
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Canadian Supreme Court Rules Ban On Assisted Suicide Unconstitutional

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  • First in..., death? Wait...
    • Well to be fair they also do it very politely when they kill anyone.

      • Re:Yay Canada! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson@gma i l .com> on Sunday February 08, 2015 @10:06AM (#49010219) Journal

        It's got to be better than forcing people to continue to live an unbearable life. If you were to do that to a dog, you'd be charged with cruelty, but ending a human's suffering in a dignified fashion? "Oh noes!!" The people who are against assisted suicide need to stop trying to impose their religious or other beliefs on others, same as same-sex marriage. When their time comes, they're free to tough it out til the bitter end, but I suspect that some of them will change their minds.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          And paradoxically, the option of assisted suicide is also provides a backstop to suffering that empowers patients to hang on, or attempt painful therapies that they might not otherwise have the will to try.

          Knowledge that it's always an option if the suffering becomes too much to bear is of enormous psychological benefit.

        • That's right. And we can bring back the T4 program and end all the suffering we see fit. With enough controls, it will bever morph into death camps for the politically undesirables. But at least the murderers can berate someone into wanting to die because they are defective in some way like being homosexual or transgender or diseased in some way. It will be more humane and give them a chance ay dignity.

          • Re:Yay Canada! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Sunday February 08, 2015 @12:10PM (#49010741) Homepage
            How someone can twist the ability for a suffering human to request, of their own volition and under extensive medical supervision, assisted suicide, and turn it into a slippery slope fallacy of death camps and selective culling of the population is beyond me. There is just no connection outside of your ever so slightly deranged brain there.
          • by kuzb ( 724081 )

            This might be the dumbest thing I've read so far this year. It's ok for you to take your tinfoil hat off once in a while.

            • You should read some history then. Mercy killings set the groundwork for the final solution. It started by a father begging for the government to end the life of his crippled boy arguing about how shitty the quality wouls be and how dignified he could die. It ended up with the government killing anyone it didn't like. You may know its end better by the term holocaust.

              But hey, that will never happen again right? Especially if we make ourselves so ignorant of the past that we do not know it happened before.

              • But hey, that will never happen again right? Especially if we make ourselves so ignorant of the past that we do not know it happened before.

                Every decision might end up having unintended consequences. So I suppose it's hypothetically possible that not forcing people suffer through end-state cancer might end up with Nazi death camps, despite Canada not being Nazi Germany. On the other hand, forcing people to suffer through end-state cancer amounts to torturing them to death, with no "might" about it. And an

                • So I suppose it's hypothetically possible that not forcing people suffer through end-state cancer might end up with Nazi death camps, despite Canada not being Nazi Germany.

                  I'm sorry, you must be reading something different than what the rest of us are. Would you mind sharing?

                  Oh and BTW, the article summery even exposes that " It does not limit physician-assisted death to those suffering a terminal illness." And it should be noted that Nazi Germany was actually held in high regard at one time before it wasn

              • by nbauman ( 624611 )

                You may know its end better by the term holocaust.

                The people I grew up with, many of whom had actually escaped from Germany, or fought in Germany, some of whom knocked out a few Nazi tanks or troop trains, usually referred to it as "The concentration camps" or just "World War II."

                The term "holocaust" didn't become popular until around 1980, when some of the Israel-firsters started using it to justify doing everything they wanted to do, like blowing up Sol Hurok's office and killing his Jewish secretary. Because -- Holocaust!

                https://books.google.com/ngram. [google.com]

              • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

                You should read some history then.

                You should realize you're living up to your UID again.

                Mercy killings set the groundwork for the final solution.

                As much as early surgeons paid the way for Nazis making lamps from people, sure, if you're into eighteen dumbfucking levels of false conflation.

                • Being in denial and attempting to hurl insults does not make you right or correct or anything. This is history and all you are doing is showing that you do not know it and do not care how ignorant you look when letting everyone else know the same about you.

        • Yes, in a perfect world only those who believe others should suffer as long as possible would be the ones who die slow painful deaths, but the world is not perfect, so it unfortunately happens to decent folks as well. We do treat animals better and that is a sad commentary on society.

          Even more sad is the old laws forced some people to cut their lives short earlier - killing themselves when they are still physically able because they fear the day they won't be capable of doing it themselves.

          Certainly tight

  • The Black Pill (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Sunday February 08, 2015 @10:09AM (#49010225) Journal
    With the erosion of religion and its accompanying objections to ending one's own life in most Western Nations (not including the U.S. unfortunately), I would expect to see more options for patients now facing only palliative care.

    When I have no more good days left, and every waking moment is agony or drug-induced, drooling stupor, I would like the option to give these borrowed molecules back to the universe when I am ready...not after my suffering has been prolonged by pointless medical procedure(s).

    • When I have no more good days left, and every waking moment is agony or drug-induced, drooling stupor, I would like the option to give these borrowed molecules back to the universe when I am ready...not after my suffering has been prolonged by pointless medical procedure(s).

      Note that you've pretty much always had that option. Or are you required to be in a hospital against your wishes wherever you live?

      Note that "assisted suicide" isn't about you killing yourself, it's about your doctor helping you to do

      • Note that "assisted suicide" isn't about you killing yourself, it's about your doctor helping you to do so. Which meets the legal definitions of murder in most places.

        According to the supreme court, it no longer meets the definition of murder. I expect to see a lot of Americans coming to Canada to seek relief from a system that insists on cruelly punishing people who can no longer bear the pain and suffering they're experiencing.

        Also, 2 states have already legalized it, so please don't blame Canada :-)

        • False, it is not to the Supreme court the make the laws and the definitions. They just said to the government to amend the law and never dictated how. The governement has to comply with the fact it cannot prevent someone to terminate his own life. The Supreme court is not the government, it just can emphasise the government must make laws complying with the constitution.
          • People in Canada have had the legal right to kill themselves for years - 1972 to be specific. That's how long it hasn't been a crime.

            Any new laws the government proposes will have to be around regulating "how it works", because the supremes have found that banning assisted suicide infringes on 3 different constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights. If they do nothing, then it's up to the provinces to pass their own laws concerning the mechanics of assisted suicide (Quebec has already enacted its own la

      • Re:The Black Pill (Score:5, Insightful)

        by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday February 08, 2015 @10:47AM (#49010381)

        What is assistance? Asking advice on the most painless, quick and reliable way of doing something?

        If you're a wheel chair bound quadriplegic what is the option for suicide?
        If you're a 100 year old senile man who can't remember if he's wearing pants what are your options for suicide?

        If you're able bodied enough to actually do the work, how do you do it reliably? Carbon monoxide poisoning works well providing you have a garage and no noisy neighbours but every chance is you may wake up in hospital after some Good Samaritan saved you. Do you jump of a bridge and risk not having an instant death and instead dye in agony? Or maybe swallow every pill you find and end up with an agonizing death as your organs slowly fail? Heck there are people who have bitten the bullet and survived with half their brain missing.

        Suicide and professionally assisted suicide are not the same thing. If you're lucky enough to have the option of one, it doesn't negate the need for the other.

        • Re:The Black Pill (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Sunday February 08, 2015 @12:14PM (#49010755) Homepage
          Medical oversight also ensures, as much as possible, that there are no treatments remaining that may be able to recover sufficient quality of life to avert the need for suicide. If the go-to response to suicidal tendencies was to go see a doctor for support, we may see a sharp decline in mental health-related suicides.
        • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

          What is assistance? Asking advice on the most painless, quick and reliable way of doing something?

          Why not look at what other countries have done?

          If you're able bodied enough to actually do the work, how do you do it reliably?

          Easy: nitrogen asphyxiation. More or less infallible, and not only does it not cause any pain, it actually gives the subject a sense of euphoria before death. BBC did an entire documentary [bbc.co.uk] on nitrogen asphyxiation in the context of replacing random drug cocktails for executions. Deat

  • The problem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Sunday February 08, 2015 @10:09AM (#49010227) Homepage

    So, a carefully designed and managed system is capable of determining whether your life is not worth living? Presumably they will also find that some people are wrong in wanting to die, otherwise they wouldn't need a system at all.

    Which lives are worth living or not sounds to me like the kind of question it's maybe not right to set an official answer to.

    I have sympathy with people who feel life isn't worth living. But I wish they would not demand that others validate their choice by killing them.

    • Maybe you should actually read the judgment [lexum.com] It is the individual who makes the determination, not the doctor, though as a safeguard the doctors have to make sure that the person is competent to make that decision.

      So there's no "official answer", no "checklist" - it's up to the individual, in consultation with friends, family, and doctors.

      • I'll tell you right now, though, they're going to need to codify, in law, that desiring to end one's life isn't prima facie evidence of not being mentally competent.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Every suicidal people is already considered mentally ill. How can you then consider someone in this situation is capable to decide for his own life?
          • by itzly ( 3699663 )

            Not necessarily. Somebody with a incurable disease and a lot of pain would be considered quite sane to wish to end the hopeless suffering.

          • Quebec has already changed its laws to allow assisted suicide. This is because they recognize sometimes, for some people, there's no point in extending the suffering. So no, the law now says that not every person who considers suicide is mentally ill.

            Also, we allow people to sign DNRs. That can be seen as a form of suicide, but it's legal and rational. What isn't rational is to only allow people to actively end their lives by refusing food and letting them starve to death. How is that NOT sick?

      • When the doctor decides whether you are competent to make that decision, they do give an official answer. If a healthy and normal person demanded it, they would probably say he was irrationally depressed.

        So they make a value judgment based on the contents of your life, on how much pain you are in, on what your prospects are. etc. Some lives are deemed rational to want to end, others are deemed not rational.

      • Re:The problem (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Sunday February 08, 2015 @11:04AM (#49010467)
        Maybe you should look at places that have already implemented such systems. Repeated studies have shown that in the Netherlands, where physician-assisted suicide has been legal for some time now, medical professionals report that they do not wait for the patient to decide that they want to die. They just use their own judgment as to whether that person's life is still worth living. As far as I have been able to find, there have been no prosecutions for such acts, even though they are technically illegal. In other words, once it becomes legal for medical professionals to assist someone in taking their own life, medical professionals begin killing people who have not asked for such "help".
        • Re:The problem (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 08, 2015 @01:10PM (#49011069)

          Repeated studies have shown that in the Netherlands, where physician-assisted suicide has been legal for some time now, medical professionals report that they do not wait for the patient to decide that they want to die.

          That is correct. Only you are conveniently forgetting that the frequency of that happening went down by a factor of 4 after euthanasia became legal in 2002. To quote from a peer-reviewed article in the Lancet: "Ending of life without an explicit patient request in 2010 occurred less often (0Ã2%; 95% CI 0Ã1Ã"0Ã3; 13 of 6861) than in 2005, 2001, 1995, and 1990 (0Ã8%; 0Ã6Ã"1Ã1; 45 of 5197). "
          http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)61034-4/abstract

          (And for those who are not used to reading responsible research that tries to report findings, instead of support a pre-determined position, CI refers to the confidence interval and is a measure of how certain the researchers are of their numbers. If you would like to point to other studies, don't bother if your study is not peer reviewed and does not include such basic means of determining the underlying statistics.)

        • Right. And we all walk around wearing &ldquo;Do not euthanize me&rdquo; bracelets.
          Post some evidence, or stop spouting nonsense.
      • The doctor also makes the decision on if bloodwork or a CT should be done. Most patients don't question a doctor's recommendations. Which leaves the door open for eugenics with this ruling, but we'll see what kinds of regulations the various governments enact in the 12 months before the ruling takes effect.
        • It's been my experience that doctors encourage patients to ask questions about their treatment. They put the "informed" in informed consent because to do otherwise would be malpractice and/or assault.

          As for eugenics, once a person is no longer capable of reproducing, you can't "clean up" the gene pool by offing them. Also, natural selection is eugenics. It's the environment that controls who wins and who loses, and the gene pool is improved in terms of survivability.

    • Such as system does not aim to answer the question if a life is worth living; the answer to that question can only be given by the person living it. The system does set up safeguards, to ward against other people making that decision for them (in case of coma, dementia or people who are otherwise mentally incapacitated), setting conditions under which people can make arrangements for when they become mentally incapacitated (in the form of a living will or a notarized declaration), and to protect people fro
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Asking for help to end suffering doesn't sound like a demand. Anyone is free to refuse giving assistance.

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      I have sympathy with people who feel life isn't worth living. But I wish they would not demand that others validate their choice by killing them.

      Well then today is your lucky day!
      Because you don't know what youre talking about and are completely mistaken about how it all even works.

      The person who wants to die makes the choice and is the one who actually carries out the act. All the doctor typically does is discuss, in realistic and rational fashion, the patients options. Which really is what doctors do already. It's just that presently when someone has no options and there is no more that can be done, that's the end of the conversation. the patient

  • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Sunday February 08, 2015 @10:10AM (#49010231) Homepage

    I believe the General Attorney of Canada missed the point in this case and did not defend properly his position. If you can easily think anyone has the right to decide for his own life, the point is about asking someone else to kill him. The argument revolved around the right for an individual to put an end to his days, and this has been declared unconstitutional to force him to live. However, what about giving permission to someone to kill someone else? This is the entire point at my humble opinion and this is where there will be abuses. It will become very hard to sue someone who have killed someone else in the conditions described by the Court to prove the killed one has never asked to be killed.

    • If the person has the right to end their life because it's not possible to help them and they want to end their suffering, and you deny them assistance when they are not physically capable of doing it themselves (just do a search for Sue Rodriguez), you have effectively removed the right for that person to end their life.

      And that is unconstitutional in Canada.

      And as the court noted, other jurisdictions have installed safeguards that work; there's no reason to believe and slippery slope will occur.

      It will become very hard to sue someone who have killed someone else in the conditions described by the Court to prove the killed one has never asked to be killed.

      The conditions that the court envisions would make what you describe impossible.

      • I believe you don't know what you are talking about. I did try to sue a doctor for killing my own mother without her consent and before this judgment from the Supreme court of Canada. I then filed a complain to the police officiers and the province prosecutor refuses to sue. I remind you this was not even legal and this doctor did act so under the current criminal laws.

        Do you know why the police refuses to even take the case? Because, living in province of Quebec, there was a legistlative debat to make assi

        • I'm sorry for your loss, but if there was a DNR or the doctors decided that attempts to save her life were going to be futile, nobody will prosecute because it doesn't make sense to continue any treatment in such cases.

          Living in DDO, QC., the Quebec legislation directly affects me, and I'm good with it. Completely OT, what part of town are you in?

    • It will become very hard to sue someone who have killed someone else in the conditions described by the Court to prove the killed one has never asked to be killed.

      In most assisted-suicide schemes, the burden of proof is on the "killer", not on the prosecution. The killer will have to prove in exquisite and irrefutable detail that the victim wanted to die. In any good system, such proof is filed and challenged before the assisted suicide even takes place.

      • In most assisted-suicide schemes, the burden of proof is on the "killer", not on the prosecution.

        Methinks you trust Systems too much.

        The present paper provides evidence that these laws and safeguards are regularly ignored and transgressed in all the jurisdictions and that transgressions are not prosecuted. For example, about 900 people annually are administered lethal substances without having given explicit consent, and in one jurisdiction, almost 50% of cases of euthanasia are not reported. Increased tol

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

      It will become very hard to sue someone who have killed someone else in the conditions described by the Court to prove the killed one has never asked to be killed.

      Maybe you should read the rest of the summary before assuming they missed the point. Specifically where they say: " a carefully designed and managed system is capable of adequately addressing them."

      Courts to prove the killed one never asked to be killed? We have legal systems that can cover all manners of a person's life including granting a person to the right to his own identity. Is it so inconceivable that a system is designed that has effectively a statistically insignificant error and abuse rate?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Read my comments to others above. I have answered this question in detail. A criminal prosectution cannot be initiated by an individual. This is initiated by the general attorney or a representative. This attorney is due to the government, the same entity that is managing the healthcare system and paying for it, and has an interest to reduce the burden of the healthcare system on the budget.

        You are talking theory, I am talking practice. Did you ever try to sue a doctor who has kill your mother without her c

    • Your line of reasoning has consequences I'd imagine you haven't thought of, because it can be extended to abuse in ANY system than can cause death. By your logic, the fact that somebody could rig someone else's brakes to cause a fatal car accident makes allowing people to drive cars a slippery slope. You can't have electricity in your house, because someone could rig a device to electrocute someone else.

      If an abuse comes up, you deal with that abuse you don't use a small outlier as reason to throw the baby

  • If I do my math right, in Switzerland the suicide rate is 14 in 100k * 7.8mio people = 1100/year. According to the statistics (PDF) [dignitas.ch] from Dignitas they assist ~10 Swiss nationals/year. What does this mean? That 99% of suicides are unassisted - or at least without official assistance. Almost everybody could find a way to kill themselves. It could be messy, it could be painful, it could fail - one of the people in Terry Pratchet's "Choosing to die" had two failed suicide attempts behind him. The worst are thos

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Sunday February 08, 2015 @11:08AM (#49010491) Journal
    The small business owner is the job creator, one who takes enormous risk to put up some capital in the hopes of making insane amount of profits. There are people willing to do the work for 2$ an hour and bowl of refried beans, which is the price for labor set by Free Markets. But the onerous, oppressive and burdensome regulations thought up by the Federal bureaucrats are making them pay 7.50$ an hour several times what the Free market dictates. Further things like overtime pay, paid to wash hands after using restrooms, paid time to use restroom, costs like gloves and masks to handle chemicals....

    Now this, if these people decide this life is not worth living and decide to kick the bucket legally, without any consequence, what would happen to their businesses? Who would create jobs? Nothing should put the well being and motivation of the small business owner to risk. The access to steady supply of cheap labor and over supply of laborers should be maintained by the government at all costs. Allowing legal suicides would imperil the most sacrosanct class of Americans, the small business owner.

    • Your comment doesn't make any sense. The ruling in this case is about people with terminal illnesses and/or those in irreversible chronic agony. This is not setting up a system where any random able-bodied person can choose to commit suicide. The people this targets are definitely no longer part of the workforce.
    • Excellent post, sir and/or ma'am. You've reeled in three and counting...

  • Cures for diseases and repairs should come first. While there are some unbelievably horrendous diseases out there that at present time we cannot cure. An example of this is one of the worst Cancers you can get, Transitional cell Carcinoma, which we wage an endless struggle even slowing down it moves so radically fast. That doesn't meanwe shouldn't keep looking for cures where ever is possible.

    If you're a wheel chair bound quadriplegic we should be looking for a way to repair, regrow, or use a cybernetic aug

  • While my migraines aren't making me suicidal, they do give me a lot of sympathy for people who are suffering from more debilitating and painful conditions in the later years of their lives. I can easily imagine a life that is so miserable that I'd want to end it on my terms instead of prolonging it.

    I don't want to live much past 65-70 (I'll be 51 in April.) The idea of spending years in a nursing home eating shit for food, bored to tears, and listening to my neighbour tell me for the 40th time about th

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