VANCOUVER, BC October 11, 2013 – The Catholic Civil Rights League is pleased with the October 10 decision of the B.C. Court of Appeal (BCCA) in the assisted suicide and euthanasia case Carter vs. Canada. The court ruled that only Parliament is constitutionally empowered to consider changes to Canada’s law prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia, overturning a 2012 trial judge’s ruling which had carved out exceptions to the existing Criminal Code suicide provision.
“The 2012 decision allowing exceptions to the law was particularly troubling, given its activist reasoning and its express repudiation of a House of Commons vote from the year before the argument in court. The Court of Appeal has recognized the importance of broad consultation, and the risks to disabled, terminally ill and other vulnerable patients,” said League President Philip Horgan. “By upholding the right to life and recognizing Parliament’s final authority as lawmaker, this decision helps protect the rights of patients, as well as the religious and conscientious rights of doctors and other health care providers who would be affected by any change to our laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide.”
In the majority opinion, the court wrote “The societal consequences of permitting physician-assisted suicide in Canada – and indeed enshrining it as a constitutional right – are a matter of serious concern to many Canadians.”
The plaintiffs in the case have announced their intention to seek leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. Assisted suicide would be permitted under certain circumstances in a law the Quebec government has introduced in the current legislative session.
When Parliament last voted on this issue (on Bill C-384, in April, 2010), the proposal for liberalization was defeated by a vote of 228 to 59 due to concerns about the potential for abuse of seniors and people with disabilities, the lack of an effective national suicide prevention strategy, and the lack of access to good palliative care in Canada. The League is an institutional member of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, which intervened in the Carter case and appeal. The League also submitted a brief to the legislative committee that studied Bill C-384. We remain active in the deliberations currently under way in Quebec.
League supports joint statement opposing Quebec euthanasia bill, Sept. 15, 2013
CCRL responds to Quebec euthanasia proposal, League press releases, June 12, 2013
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information:
Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org