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Canada's law against doctor-assisted suicide has been declared 'invalid' by a BC Supreme Court judge, but existing legislation can not be struck down for at least one year.
Justice Lynn Smith has delivered a 395-page report declaring the legislation's 'absolute prohibition' as unconstitutional.
She says current law discriminates against people like Gloria Taylor of West Kelowna because the 64-year old with A-L-Ss may choose to end her life sooner, so she doesn't have to wait until she's no longer physically capable of committing suicide.
Smith also found the legislation violates the rights of those who risk going to prison if they help a loved one access doctor-assisted suicide.
The judge says, although palliative care continues to improve, the best can not 'alleviate all suffering, except possibly through sedation to the point of persistent unconsciousness.'
While acknowledging some end-of-life practices are 'ethically acceptable,' doctors have differing opinions on what safeguards can adequately protect the vulnerable.
She notes the Canadian Medical Association and --based on public opinion-- most Canadians do not support physician-assisted suicide, but concerns about patients not being able to make informed decisions or sufferng undue influence can be avoided through 'carefully-designed' and well-monitored safeguards.
She has given parliament a year to 'take whatever steps' needed to correct what she's calling 'overbroad' legislation.
She's also given Taylor permission to seek physican-assisted suicide under specified conditions.
Gloria Taylor, one of the plaintiffs in this test case, is not available for comment today, but her lawyer, Joe Arvay, says she cried when she heard today's ruling.
"A great sense of relief, um, this has been a very difficult time for her. she waited, as we all did, with great anticipation. she's very, very grateful to the court."
Opponents, -including palliative care Doctor Margaret Cottle, say this decision is dangerous.
"If, somehow, we are....the law allows other people to be involved in taking our lives, all of us are at risk. all of us are at risk. It's a very sad day."
Cottle adds she'll be shocked if the federal government doesn't appeal this ruling.