Euthanasia Supreme Court Decision: A sacred line has been crossed



February 6, 2015

For immediate release from the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada

February 6, 2015


OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in Lee Carter, et al., v. Attorney General of Canada, et al., this morning, striking down Canada’s laws against assisted suicide and signaling Parliament to create new, permissive legislation if it so desires. The unanimous decision of the Court declared that section 241(b) and s. 14 of the Criminal Code unjustifiably infringe section 7 of the Charter and are of no force or effect to the extent that they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition. The declaration of invalidity is suspended for 12 months to give Parliament time to respond. The court has left the door open to Parliament to make the new legislation restrictive.

The Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada was an intervenor in the case and made written arguments to the Court last fall to defend the inviolability of human life.

Mark Penninga, Executive Director of ARPA Canada, made the following comments:

  • “A sacred line has been crossed. This decision turns the right to life from something that is objectively fixed and inviolable to something that is subjectively fluid and based on what someone feels it is worth.”
  • “It will be logically impossible for Parliament or any legislature or court to enact safeguards that will be able to withstand future legal challenges. As we see in Belgium and the Netherlands, it is only a matter of time before these so-called safeguards are considered an unjust limitation on someone else’s rights, even allowing children or those who are depressed to be killed at the hands of the state.”
  • “With this decision, autonomous choices have been raised as a higher value than life itself. This will have devastating consequences on the value of human life, especially for the most vulnerable in society.”

André Schutten,Legal Counsel for ARPA Canada, was in the counsel lock-down this morning and made the following comments:

  • “When an absolute ban on killing people is removed from the law, Canadians with severe disabilities, as a class of people, are provided less protection and benefit of the law vis-à-vis the homicide provisions in the Criminal Code than able-bodied Canadians.”
  • “This case turned on the question of minimal impairment: was Canada right to say that the risks inherent in physician-assisted suicide cannot be adequately addressed through the use of safeguards. The Supreme Court agreed with the trial judge that the risks can be “substantially minimized”. However, this assessment implies that the risks cannot be eliminated. That means innocent people will die. Safeguards are inadequate”

Mr. Schutten also spoke to the Court’s decision to give Parliament time to draft new legislation:

  • “ARPA Canada will be encouraging our elected leaders in the next 12 months to utilize all measures possible to protect the intrinsic value of all human life. If that requires the use of section 33 of the Charter, the Notwithstanding Clause, then that needs to be seriously considered. There is no role more important for the civil government than the protection of human life.”
  • “Parliament has voted numerous times, as recently as 2010, that it does not support assisted suicide and euthanasia. Parliament was nearly unanimous in rallying behind NDP Member of Parliament Charlie Angus just last year, promoting palliative care as a much better policy choice than allowing assisted suicide or euthanasia.”

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Interview Requests

  • Mark Penninga is available throughout the day for phone or email interviews. Contact him directly at 1-866-691-2772 or [email protected]
  • André Schutten is available for comment this morning at the Supreme Court of Canada and is available throughout the day for in-studio interviews in Ottawa. To arrange an interview contact Niki Pennings, Administrative Assistant, at 1-905-577-5875 or [email protected]
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