Saturday, September 21, 2019

BC court agrees to drop court case concerning the definition of terminal illness in Canada's euthanasia law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On September 10 I reported that the Lamb euthanasia court case) may soon be dropped based on new interpretations of Canada's euthanasia law. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition was an intervenor in the Lamb case. 

My predictions were based on the request by the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), who were representing Julia Lamb, that the BC Court agree to drop the challenge to the section of Canada's euthanasia law requiring that a person's "natural death be reasonably forseeable" before qualifying for euthanasia.

The BCCLA argued that a wider interpretation of the euthanasia law made the legal challenge unnecessary as Julia Lamb was now assessed as "qualifying" for euthanasia.

Kelly Grant, reporting for The Globe and Mail confirmed my comments in an article on September 18 explaining why the court agreed to drop the challenge to the euthanasia law. Grant wrote:

Ms. Lamb’s case, which was scheduled to go to trial in November, took an unusual turn when the federal government’s medical expert explained in a written submission that Ms. Lamb would, in fact, be eligible for an assisted death – largely because a consensus has developed in the medical community over the past three years that a patient’s death does not have to be imminent to count as reasonably foreseeable.
On September 11, the Quebec Superior Court struck down the same requirement that a person be terminally ill before they qualify for euthanasia in Canada. It is possible that the BCCLA knew that the Quebec Superior Court was likely to strike this section of the law, but I am convinced that the BCCLA wanted the case dropped because in October 2017, the Supreme Court of BC ruled that new evidence could be introduced in the Lamb trial. 

Bringing new evidence into the trial led to the case becoming complicated and expensive but it also opened the door to the court providing a tighter interpretation of the provision "natural death must be reasonably forseeable.

Since the BC court agreed to drop the Lamb case, it is incumbent on the federal government to appeal the Quebec Superior court decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, to provide clarity and definition of the law.

1 comment:

Sheila said...

No doctor should be allowed to place a DNR order without the patient's knowledge or consent. It is against the rights of the person. Like abortion being supported under the women's right to choose; right to life and liberty is taken away by placing DNR orders on certain people. Many doctors will place them on drug addicts; those suffering with mental illness and maybe their next door neighbour. This smacks of Nazi death camps and I can not help but feel the real purpose is to get rid of societal problems and saving costs on patient care. There were only a handful of lobbyists for assisted suicide - why would a government change a law to accommodate a handful? They changed it for the purpose of culling the population. Most of this Canadian law, particularly doctors who issue DNR without a patient's knowledge or consent, is against the Charter of Freedom and Rights and International Law. Please find a way to combat this dangerous practice.