Landmark assisted suicide case raises ‘arguable grounds for appeal’

Last week, a British Columbia Supreme Court justice ruled that the current Canada-wide ban on physician-assisted suicide was unconstitutional, in a landmark decision.

Madame Justice Lynn Smith has suspended her ruling for one year in order to allow Parliament time to draft new legislation. Some jurists have speculated that the Harper government will appeal the judgement, though a spokesman for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the decision on whether to appeal has yet to be made.

“Ultimately, the argument from the other side is going to turn on ‘slippery slope’ kind of reasoning, that you have to ban it all, because you can’t be sure that any exceptions that are put in place will actually be deployed in ways that protect people who are in vulnerable positions,” said UBC law professor Joel Bakan, who added that the judge’s decision was “very cogently argued.”