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Rodriguez V Ag Of British Columbia Notes

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Rodriguez v AG of British Columbia [1993] 3 SCR 519 Supreme Court of Canada Facts D was a 42yo woman who had a progressively degenerative illness. She had a life expectancy of around a year, and eventually would only be able to breathe via respirator, and wouldn't be able to talk, move or eat normally. She wished a physician to set up a device which allowed her to, by her own hand, end her life when she considered life no longer with living. Lamer CJ (dis)

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In my view, persons with disabilities who are or will become unable to end their lives without assistance are discriminated against by [the provision which does not permit assisted suicide]
o since, unlike persons capable of causing their own deaths, they are deprived of the option of choosing suicide. o This inequality is moreover imposed on persons unable to end their lives unassisted solely because of a physical disability,
? the inequality may be characterized as a burden or disadvantage, since it limits the ability of those who are subject to this inequality to take and act upon fundamental decisions regarding their lives and persons.

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For them, the principle of self-determination has been limited
? Although at first sight persons who cannot commit suicide and those who can are given identical treatment under [the provision]

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they are nevertheless treated unequally since by the effect of that provision persons unable to commit suicide without assistance are deprived of any ability to commit suicide in a way which is not unlawful,

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whereas it does not have that effect on those able to end their lives without assistance

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It should be pointed out that the advantage which the appellant claims to be deprived of is not the option of committing suicide as such o But that she will be deprived of the right to choose suicide, of her ability to decide on the conduct of her life herself. o Can the right to choose at issue here, that is the right to choose suicide, be described as an advantage of which the appellant is being deprived?
? The Court should answer this question without reference to the philosophical and theological considerations fuelling the debate on the morality of suicide or euthanasia.

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It should consider the question before it from a legal perspective

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You can say it is unequal and discriminatory from a secular legal perspective without saying it is morally justified to do it.

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Is it justified?
o Clearly, the aim of the legislation is to protect vulnerable people from the influence of others in deciding when, whether and how to terminate their lives
? The repeal of the offence of attempted suicide suggests that Parliament was giving consideration to the fact that medical help rather than criminal sanctions were more appropriate

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