Carter v. Canada (Attorney General)

2015 SCC 5 (2015)

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Carter v. Canada (Attorney General)

Canada Supreme Court
2015 SCC 5 (2015)

Facts

In 1972, the Canadian government repealed the criminal provisions criminalizing suicide. The government retained a provision prohibiting assisted suicide: Section 241 of the Criminal Code. In Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General), the Supreme Court in 1993 upheld the ban on assisted suicide after a challenge from a woman suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In 2009, doctors diagnosed Gloria Taylor with ALS. In 2011, Taylor sought to intervene as a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association challenging Section 241 of the Criminal Code. The trial court found Section 241 of the Criminal Court violated Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the charter). The trial court concluded that Section 241 violated the right to life under Section 7 of the charter because individuals with terminal conditions were forced to prematurely end their own lives without help from physicians. The trial court did note that Parliament should address the issue of physician-assisted suicide but that an absolute prohibition was not the kind of complex regulation of the issue that was needed. The trial court concluded that the infringement of Section 7 was not justified under Section 1 of the charter. Canada, represented by the attorney general, appealed to the Canada Supreme Court. In 2015, the Canada Supreme Court heard a consolidated appeal from several parties on the constitutionality of assisted suicide under the charter.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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