The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision about Canada’s laws on euthanasia/assisted suicide will be released today at 9:45 am.
I don’t think anyone is holding their breath. Father De Souza’s article in the Post is most excellent, very poignant, very worth reading:
Should the court rule tomorrow to liberalize our laws on euthanasia and suicide, we will be on the road to Belgium. There will be many assurances about all the strict guidelines and robust procedures in place around euthanasia — just as there were in 2002 when Belgium legalized it. Less than a decade down Europe’s euthanasia road, the milestones have been quickly passed: involuntary euthanasia, euthanasia for treatable mental illnesses, euthanasia for children.
Last October, when the Court heard the arguments to be decided tomorrow, I wrote that to embrace euthanasia and suicide as constitutional rights involved three revolutions in jurisprudence: i) abandoning the legal principle that every life is always a good to be protected, ii) embracing the idea that suicide is a social good, and iii) removing the particular obligation of the law to protect the weak and vulnerable. Before the juggernaut of personal autonomy those venerable principles don’t stand a chance in today’s Supreme Court.
Indeed, the price of exalting the personal autonomy of the able and influential is the removal of protections for those who have little autonomy to exercise and are easily preyed upon. We saw this clearly enough in the court’s prostitution decision, in which the justices opted for the liberty of those few high-end escorts that make such compelling figures at press conferences. If the removal of protection for the much larger number of exploited, abused and poor women driven to the streets is the price of that, so be it.
Tomorrow, we will hear positive reviews from the telegenic advocates of expanding the number of suicides and people euthanized in Canada. They will have compelling stories to tell. They will have fashionable spokesmen. We will not hear from those who have no advocates — the isolated elderly, alone with no one to speak for them, judged to be burdensome to our health system. The disabled who will now wonder if their doctors are coming with counsels of death do not have fashionable advocates. The truly weak and vulnerable, the exploited and abandoned, do not hold press conferences.
Canada got a break in 1993. Less than a decade after the Charter came into effect, a slight majority of justices thought it a bit of a stretch to create a right to suicide that none of the drafters of the Charter thought was there. Twenty years on, that reticence is now gone. The Charter becomes a tool of the powerful against the weak, much like medicine will increasingly become in the age of euthanasia and suicide. It begins tomorrow.
Since Father De Souza published this yesterday, I can add now that all this begins today.