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Assisted Suicide, Canada, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Statute, Criminal Code, Decriminalization


Assisted suicide has once again surfaced as an issue of public attention. Just in the past year, four cases have been in the news. In addition the results of a major study on the attitudes of cancer patients in palliative care towards euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide and the results of an Ipsos Reid public opinion poll on assisted suicide were released. Vigorous calls both for and against the decriminalization of assisted suicide followed. Given that it has been fifteen years since the release of the most famous assisted suicide case in Canada, and given this recent spate of attention, we believe that it is worth re-engaging with the issue of the legal status of assisted suicide in Canada. Therefore, in this paper, we first describe the history and current legal status of assisted suicide in Canada. We then argue that, under new evidence and new jurisprudence only available after the Rodriguez decision was releases, s. 241(b) of the Criminal Code (the prohibition on assisted suicide) is unconstitutional - violating s.7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and not saved by s.1. We also append an annotated draft statute that the federal Parliament course use were it to take up the challenge we issue at the end of the paper.

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Health LJ