TORONTO, ON November 14, 2011 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today expressed the hope that respect for life will prevail in the assisted suicide case currently before the BC Supreme Court.

Carter vs. Attorney General of Canada brings a constitutional challenge to Canada’s laws prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia. The League is not an intervenor in this case. However, it is an institutional member of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, which is present in court as an intervenor.  The plaintiffs include the family of Kay Carter, a British Columbia woman with significant disabilities who died via assisted suicide in Switzerland in 2010. Arguments in the case began Nov. 14. The plaintiffs seek to make the option available legally in Canada.

On April 21, 2010, Bill C-384, which would have legalized physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada was defeated by a vote of 228 to 59. Several previous proposals were also defeated in Parliament, and the outcome of this case could make assisted suicide the subject of legislation once more.

“The League has always believed that the right to life needs to be the guiding principle in end of life care, as research has shown that where euthanasia or assisted suicide are allowed, the safeguards surrounding it become very difficult or impossible to enforce,” said Joanne McGarry, League Executive Director. “Before too long there are credible reports of patients being euthanized without consent from themselves or their families.”

Legalization would also raise serious issues of religious and conscientious freedom for doctors and other health care providers. The quest by some people to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide tells us not only that sanctity of life has become, at best, a relative value for some people, but also that we are failing to provide appropriate palliative care and other support to patients and their families. The need to improve palliative care quality and access was the principal focus on the League’s submission to the all-party committee established to research and develop better palliative care across Canada.

Panel calls for legalization of assisted suicide,
Globe and Mail, November 15, 2011
Landmark case renews debate on right to die, Star, November 14, 2011

Parliamentary committee calls for better palliative care, CCRL, November 22, 2011