On February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC. The Christian Legal Fellowship intervened in that appeal in support of the constitutionality of the Criminal Code prohibition of physician assisted suicide.
The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the existing total ban on physician assisted suicide. However, the Supreme Court did not approve physician assisted suicide for all individuals. Only those who cannot commit suicide by their own hand are entitled to a constitutionally mandated assist from a physician. Parliament’s authority to prohibit physician assisted suicide in all other cases was recognized and affirmed by the Supreme Court.
The intervener factum of the Christian Legal Fellowship focused on the right to life in section 7 of the Charter. In particular, the Christian Legal Fellowship argued that Parliament had a duty under the Constitution to protect life because of the sanctity of life. This principle was accepted and highlighted by the Supreme Court of Canada in this important statement found at paragraph 63 of the Court’s decision: “The sanctity of life is one of our most fundamental societal values. Section 7 is rooted in a profound respect for the value of human life.” The Supreme Court rejected the idea that the right to life includes a right to die.
May 14, 2015