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The Court Challenge for the Right to Die

  • gloria taylor
    July 7, 2014

    On July 4th, the Supreme Court of Canada Ruled that Dying With Dignity has been given the right to intervene in the case of Gloria Taylor (Carter et. al. vs. Attorney General for Canada).

    The case will be heard in Ottawa on the morning of October 15th, 2014. We'll be working closely with our head legal counsel, Cynthia Petersen and her team at Sack, Goldblatt and Mitchell to bring our most compelling arguments.

    Read the Supreme Court's Decision.

    See also:

    Advance Care Planning (Living Wills)

    Advance Care Planning Resource Kits (available for free download)

     

  • October 10, 2013

    The Court did not reject any of the principles Dying With Dignity supports or were raised in this case.  The decision was split with Justice Finch, the Chief Justice for BC, filing a notable dissent.

    While the Appeal Court has said NO, there are some strong positives to take from the decision.  

  • August 29, 2013

    The three member panel of the BC Court of Appeal has not yet released its decision on the Gloria Taylor Case - also known as the Carter Case for the right to die (after original plaintiffs Lee Carter, Hollis Johnson, Dr. William Shoichet and the BC Civil LIberties Association).

  • March 21, 2013

    DWD board member Ruth von Fuchs has been closely following the Carter Case through the live webcast. Here are some notes and comments from Ruth about the day.  Ruth Von Fuchs comments are italized and in [ ] brackets.

    Tucker spent some time on the risks of error in decision-making by patients and doctors.  Would there need to be a higher standard (i.e., less tolerance of risk) when death was expected to follow from the administration of a drug, instead of from the unimpeded progression of the patient’s disease? 

  • March 21, 2013

    DWD board member Ruth von Fuchs has been closely following the Carter Case through the live webcast (link).  Here are some notes and comments from Ruth about the day.  Ruth Von Fuchs comments are italized and in [ ] brackets.

    Arvay began by referring again to life-ending practices other than euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) – e.g. withholding or withdrawal of treatment, and palliative sedation in the absence of artificial nutrition/hydration – as a way of putting EAS in perspective.  He asked what would happen if Parliament banned all such practices, along with euthanasia and assisted suicide.  He answered that there would be a hue and cry. 

  • March 21, 2013

    DWD board member Ruth von Fuchs has been closely following the Carter Case through the live webcast (link).  Here are some notes and comments from Ruth about the day.  Note that for the most part day 3 concerned several fine points of law and process, Ruth conveys these below to a non-legal audience. 

    Arvay opened his submission by contrasting the court system with the political system.  In the court system people speak as experts, not as advocates; there are no issues of loyalty to a person or a party.  There is also no fear of losing one’s job by offending certain constituents who may have given the appearance of speaking for a majority, whether or not they really do.  When the political system malfunctions as a result of such psychological factors, the court system assumes a more important role.  In Mr. Arvay’s own words: “Courts are the last line of defence for citizens.”

  • March 21, 2013

    DWD board member Ruth von Fuchs has been closely following the Carter Case through the live webcast. These are her comments and observations.

    The three presiding judges were Lance Finch (Chief Justice), Mary Newbury and Mary Saunders.

    The Appellant, the Attorney General of Canada, was represented by Donnaree Nygard.  In the last half hour of the day, four other lawyers spoke on behalf of the intervening groups who supported the AG’s position: the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, the Christian Legal Fellowship, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

  • March 20, 2013

    DWD board member Ruth von Fuchs has been closely following the Carter Case through the live webcast (link).  Here are her notes about the gist of the day:

    The position of the Attorney General of Canada.

    During the first day Nygard, as expected, spoke mainly about various legal points on which she claimed that BC Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith (who presided over the initial case) had erred.

  • January 28, 2013

    A cornerstone of the case was the extremely moving testimony of those who have been impacted by our current laws.  Here are the affidavits of seriously ill patients and family members:

    Peter F (71)    Leslie L (54)   Johnathan L (52)   

    Elayne S (64)  Pieter Z (63)   Ian P (68)   Antony N (57)

    Thanks to BC Civil Liberties Association for making these documents available.

     

  • January 8, 2013

    The Attorney General of Canada presents has presented his Factum to the Court of Appeal which outlines the basis of his appeal of Madam Justice Smith's decision of June 12, 2012.

    Factum of the Attorney General of Canada

     

  • August 16, 2012

    In July, Rob Nicholson, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice appealed the decision of Justice Smith, including the exemption that had been granted to Gloria. So much for justice!

    On August 10, 2012, Justice Jo-Ann Prowse overturned the Attorney General's appeal as it pertains to Gloria's exemption and brought back compassion and decency to the situation.

  • July 24, 2012

    Rob Nicholson, the Attorney General for Canada, has appealed the BC Supreme Court Decision on medically-assisted death. Citing the very limited support - 20% - of MPs for the 2010 private member's bill, C-384, on legalizing medically assisted dying, he has asked the BC Court of appeal to reconsider the decision made by Madam Justice Lynn Smith.

  • June 15, 2012

    Palliative care is not enough, some currently accepted end-of-life practices bear similarities to physician-assisted death, it is possible to design safeguards that are largely effective.

    These are just some of the conclusions reached by Madam Justice Lynn Smith in her just released decision on the Carter challenge.

  • June 15, 2012

    The case was brought by four inital co-plaintiffs who were later joined by Gloria Taylor.  Here are the affidavits of the principal parties: 

    Affidavits and Written Submissions of the Plaintiffs

    Gloria Taylor Affidavit    Plaintiffs Written Submissions

    BCCLA Affidavit             Plaintiffs Submissions re: Bedford v. Canada

    Lee Carter Affidavit

    Hollis Jonson Affidavit

    Thanks to BC Civil Liberties for making these submissions available.

  • December 17, 2011

    After a day off on Thursday December 15th to allow the plaintiff’s counsel to complete their reply to both the Federal & Provincial Crown’s argument; Friday, Dec 16 was the final day of the Gloria Taylor trial.  DWD's Executive Director, Wanda Morris summarizes the testimony given during the final day in court.

  • December 17, 2011

    Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die was at the trial and reports on the arguments of the defendants, the Attorney General for Canada and the Attorney General for BC.Ms. Nugard, the lead counsel for the Attorney General for Canada led the case for the defendants.  She stated euthanasia is an incredibly difficult policy issue. 

    She argued that the plaintiffs were seeking a policy change for people suffering grievous and irremediable illness. Such a policy, she said, was the responsibility of parliament and not the courts.

  • December 17, 2011

    Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die reports from the BC Supreme Court on the subbmission of the three interveners in support of the plaintiffs.  The counsel for the interveners gave oral and written submissions to the Court.
     

  • December 12, 2011

    This Report covers the Trial for the period December 2 – 6, 2011

    This report was prepared by the Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die.  On Friday December 2nd the plaintiff’s counsel Joe Arvay commenced his s.15 Charter of Rights argument that the criminal prohibition against aiding suicide discriminates against people with disabilities.

  • December 12, 2011

    This Report from the Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die covers the Carter Trial on  December 1, 2011. 

    Day 11: Thursday, December 01, 2011

    Counsel for the plaintiffs, Joe Arvay, began the first day of what will be several days of argument. He told the court that the case involves the rights of unfortunate Canadians who have irremediable medical conditions that cause intolerable suffering, such as “ALS, Huntington’s, ravaging cancer … but also those with rarer conditions, like the bluntly but aptly named “Locked-In Syndrome” – a condition capable of transforming the body into the breathing equivalent of a medieval dungeon.” He said that there are those who “believe there are states of being that are literally worse than death, and who wish to embrace the latter in the time, manner and circumstances of their own choosing.”
     

  • November 30, 2011

    Here are the updates from the trial, days 9 and 10, as reported by the Farewell Foundation for the Right to die.

    Day 9: Thursday, November 24,  2011  Dr. Herbert Hendin (Expert for Canada)

    Thursday’s session opened at 06:30 a.m. for a video conference with Dr. Hendin, a witness from New York.  Dr. Hendin is a psychiatrist with Suicide Prevention International and author of the 1997 book, Seduced by Death: Doctor’s, Patients, and the Dutch Cure.  

  • November 29, 2011

    We continue to follow the reporting of the Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die and their blogs from the court house.

    Day 6: Monday, Nov. 21,  2011  Prof John Keown (Expert for Canada)

    Professor John Keown is Rose Kennedy Chair of Christian Ethics, Georgetown University.  Prof Keown’s law publications are critical of Dutch euthanasia policies.  He testified that he opposes any form of assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia because human life is inviolable. Prof Keown told the Court that he is Catholic but his legal research on assisted suicide and euthanasia is secular, not informed by religion.

  • November 29, 2011

    The Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die continues to follow the trial. 

    Day 3: Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    The witness for day 3 of the summary trial was Dr. Marcia Angell, an expert witness for the plaintiffs.  Dr. Angell was former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Journal of  Medicine, the world’s top medical journal.  She was responsible for reviewing scientific papers and wrote many editorials to promote education about the interplay between medicine and social health.  Some of her editorials were on the topic of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

  • November 17, 2011

    The Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die provides insights on the first two days in court.

    The Carter trial is scheduled from November 14th to December 16, 2011.

    Day 1: Monday, November 14, 2011

    The first day of the Carter trial began before a packed courtroom at 09:45, with the Sherriff holding about 10 people back in a corridor until seats were available. After the
    opening arguments, there was cross-examination of Dr. Linda Ganzini, staff psychiatrist at Oregon Health Sciences University. Dr. Ganzini is an expert witness for the plaintiffs. Her affidavit is 28 pages long , plus another 324 pages of material about her many scientific papers.

     

  • November 17, 2011

    The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has been heavily featured in the press this week with their talk of risks and slippery slopes.

    John Warren, DWD Board Member, takes a closer look at that claim.

    Between 70% and 80% of Canadians are in favour of having access to medically assisted dying, providing proper controls are in place to protect the weak and the vulnerable. Of course we should have the right to control our own bodies and of course we don’t want to impose that right on others who do not want to die in that manner.

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