Friday, October 26, 2012

Assisted suicide too risky, federal government argues in appeal against B.C. decision

Legalizing doctor-assisted suicide would demean the value of life and could lead vulnerable people to take drastic steps in “moments of weakness,” the federal government argues in its appeal of a court decision that struck down the ban on the practice.

Ottawa is defending the law that prohibits assisted suicide as it appeals a decision from a British Columbia court, which concluded it is unconstitutional to prevent the sick and dying from asking a doctor to help them end their lives.

The government argues in court documents that allowing any form of assisted suicide creates the possibility that people with disabilities, the elderly and the terminally ill could be coerced to end their lives or do so in moments of depression and despair, even if better days may be ahead.

“It [the current law’s purpose] is to protect the vulnerable, who might be induced in moments of weakness to commit suicide,” the government says in a 54-page legal argument filed with the B.C. Court of Appeal.

“And it is a reflection of the state’s policy that the inherent value of all human life should not be depreciated by allowing one person to take another’s life … It also discourages everyone, even the terminally ill, from choosing death over life.”

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