In a lengthy B.C. Supreme Court decision in the case of Carter vs Canada, Justice Lynn Smith ruled that laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide are unconstitutional and discriminate against those who are unable to take their own lives.
Two of the most prevalent themes of commentators need some clarification: one is the distinction between assisted suicide and refusing medical treatment, and the other is the ability of safeguards to protect vulnerable people.
Assisted suicide and euthanasia are the direct, intentional killing of people, whether or not they are near death; they are not the refusal or withdrawal of burdensome treatment.
When treatments are not beneficial, medical treatment may be refused, and the patient's life may come to an end, but in no way does this imply that we want that person to die.
In contrast, assisted suicide is an intentional act which will bring about death immediately or in a short time, sometimes with the person's consent, but as we have also seen, sometimes without.
With regard to putting safeguards in place to protect vulnerable people, I do find it somewhat naive that some in Canada think they can provide a system that other countries and several states in the U.S. have not been able to.
There are reported cases of euthanasia and assisted suicide of adults without their consent, and reports of the euthanasia of newborn babies. The elderly have understandable fears about being admitted to hospital. The number of cases of elder abuse will only increase if euthanasia is permitted.
We now await a response from the federal government. Let us hope that appeal court judges will look more closely at the evidence of the overall impact this would have on society rather than make a judgment based on one distressing case.
Re: a letter to the editor in the May 14 issue expressing concern over children's lack of knowledge of our Pope.
Re: Math whiz solves his way to provincial crown, in the June 11 issue:
St. John Brebeuf Secondary School