CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, June 15, 2012

Right to Assisted Suicide in British Columbia (Kolber)

In what's described in this article as a "stunning decision," the British Columbia Supreme Court released an opinion today that provides for a right to assisted suicide. Here's an excerpt from the article (the decision itself is apparently 395 pages):

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith ruled she was giving Taylor an “exceptional remedy of a constitutional exemption” while Parliament decides whether and how to respond to the declarations of constitutional invalidity.

Smith placed a 12-month extension on her ruling, which means that while she has ruled the current law invalid, Parliament has one year to change the law.

In her 395-page ruling, Smith found that Taylor’s Charter rights were violated under the 20-year law, which made it a criminal offence for anyone to arrange and receive assistance in their own death.

Smith found that the current legislation infringes Taylor’s equality rights because the law does not prohibit suicide. Smith added that people who are so physically disabled that they cannot commit suicide without help are denied that option because s.241 in the Criminal Code prohibits assisted suicide.


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