TORONTO, Sept. 29 /CNW/ - September 30, 2008 marks the 15th anniversary
of the Supreme Court of Canada' s ruling in the Sue Rodriguez case. Ms
Rodriguez had a terminal illness, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also
known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, which can bring a slow, suffocating death.
Rodrigues argued that the Criminal Code of Canada discriminated against
her as a person with a disability. Because of her disease she could not end
her life on her own, yet the law prohibited her from being assisted in her
dying. Dying With Dignity Canada was an intervener in this case, supporting
the claim made by Ms Rodriguez.
In a five to four decision, the Supreme Court found that the
discrimination that existed was reasonable in a free and democratic society.
Ms Rodriguez had failed in her attempt to change the law in Canada. She later
had an assisted death. But charges were never laid.
The Rodriguez case riveted Canadians in a way few other cases have. At
the time of this ruling 75% of Canadians supported a change to the law,
allowing for physician-assisted dying. Again in 2007 an IPSOS Reid poll
learned that 76% of Canadians still support changing to this law.
In 15 years not a single government action has been made to revisit this
law which is out of date and in need of revision. Canadians deserve better of
their governments. Dying With Dignity Canada continues to advocate for change
in the legislation.
In the same 15 years, Oregon (USA), the Netherlands, Belgium and
Luxemburg have all enacted laws allowing assisted dying, laws that have been
demonstrated to be safe and beneficial. This year Washington State (USA) has
an initiative on the November ballot that would allow physician-assisted dying
in their state - it is likely to pass. Where has Canada's parliament been
during this time?
"If death is an integral part of life, which I believe it to be, then
death should be protected as a right under section 7 of the Constitution. The
right to die with dignity should be well protected as is any other aspect of
the right to life."
Supreme Court Justice Peter Cory
Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General)
For further information:
For further information: Jane Rogers, Dying With Dignity Canada, Cell:
(905) 391-8373, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Donald Babey, Dying With
Dignity Canada, Cell: (416) 577-5023, Email: email@example.com