Thursday, April 14, 2016

Liberal Government ignores Supreme Court's eligibility criteria on assisted dying

Canada's Liberal government introduced its legislation on assisted dying in parliament. There's a lot to talk about there, but let me focus on the government's most brazen ignoring of the eligibility criteria the Court has established.

Here's the legislative draft proposal
A person has a grievous and irremediable medical condition if
(a) they have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability;
(b) they are in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability;
(c) that illness, disease or disability or that state of decline causes them enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable; and
(d) their natural death has become reasonably foreseeable, taking into account all of their medical circumstances, without a prognosis necessarily having been made as to the specific length of time that they have remaining.

Compare that to the Supreme Court's criteria:

'competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.'

I'm sure even lay persons appreciate that 'd' in the legislative draft is simply too restrictive, given the criteria the Court has set. Terminal illness is not a defensible threshold condition for access. Patients do not have to be in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability either. Excluding not terminally ill patients from access who meet the above mentioned Supreme Court criteria would clearly violate Canadians' Charter rights. Apparently that is of no concern to our government.

To cut a long story short, if this becomes law, a Charter challenge will occur sooner rather than later, and the matter will be fixed in the Court. It is shocking that a Liberal government would continue the Harper government's tradition of trying to subvert Supreme Court decisions.


  1. All death is certain, Udo. Ergo, all conditions (including being healthy as hell) makes death reasonably foreseable. Hell, in light of life-expectancy statistics, birth itself has that effect, no? If not, the needless legal process you predict is sure to occur.

    1. In the end foreseeability is considered in light of remoteness. If it is so far off that there will likely be intervening circumstance then it is considered less foreseeable.

    2. But that's irrational, as intervening circumstances from birth and on are most likely to hasten rather than delay death (though a few ones may slightly moderate the effect of the other ones). ;-)


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