Monday, October 17, 2011

Canadian Assisted Suicide Context

Here's a little context on the current battle to legalize assisted suicide in Canada, and includes an account of a elderly Canadian who was killed at Swiss Death Clinic Dignitas.
W5: Seeking an end to life and challenging the law
A lot has happened since Sue Rodriguez, who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease, took her fight to legalize assisted suicide all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1993. She lost that legal battle by a close 5-4 decision. Four months later, an anonymous doctor discreetly helped her carry out her dying wish.
In essence, the Court ruled that no one could legally assist in another's death, despite terminal disease, intractable pain, prolonged suffering, or an expressed wish to end it. So as it stands in Canada, it is illegal to counsel, aid or abet a person to commit suicide, and anyone convicted of the offence could be imprisoned for up to 14 years.
Since the Rodriguez case, several countries -- including Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands, and the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon and Montana -- have legalized some form of assisted suicide.
And now, the debate has been re-ignited in British Columbia where a number of Canadians wanting an assisted death has once again put the issue front and center. Along with the support of the BC Civil Liberties Union, they have launched a court challenge to strike down the law as unconstitutional.
As CTV's W5 has found, once again, the battle lines have been drawn with one side arguing that people have right to decide their own fate, and the other side warning of a "slippery slope" where society's most vulnerable may be put at risk.
Now Lee Carter and Hollis Johnson of Langley, B.C. are trying to finish the fight that Rodriguez started by once again challenging the law against assisted suicide.
For Lee and Hollis, the fight is personal. more

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