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B.C. court refuses Rodriguez’s plea

The Story

On Dec. 30, 1992, Justice Allen Melvin of the B.C. Supreme Court denies Sue Rodriguez the legal right to doctor-assisted suicide, reports CBC Television. Rodriguez's lawyer Chris Considine had argued that the Canadian Criminal Code was in violation of Rodriguez's rights guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Melvin disagrees. In a 22-page judgement he rules that since there is no such thing as the legal right to die, the law against assisted suicide does not infringe on Rodriguez's rights under the charter. Cheryl Eckstein of the Compassionate Healthcare Network applauds the judgement while others such as MP Sven Robinson urge the federal government to make changes to the Criminal Code. Facing a wall of cameras, the woman at the centre of the debate talks about her disappointment but says she'll continue her fight. "I'm feeling discouraged but I feel strongly that terminally ill people who are mentally competent should have the choice of time as to when to die." 

Medium: Television
Program: Prime Time News
Broadcast Date: Dec. 30, 1992
Guest(s): Chris Considine, Cheryl Eckstein, Svend Robinson, Sue Rodriguez
Host: Pamela Wallin
Reporter: Jerry Thompson
Duration: 3:45

Did You know?

. Chris Considine had made three points in his case before Justice Allen Melvin of the B.C. Supreme Court.
. He first argued that denying Rodriguez the legal right to doctor-assisted suicide infringed upon her right to exercise control over her body while she was still alive.
. Secondly, he said forcing Rodriguez to undergo treatment would amount to cruel and unusual treatment.

. Lastly, he accused the court of discriminating against Rodriguez since it allowed an able person to commit suicide while making it illegal for those who were physically incapable.
. On Dec. 9, 1992, federal NDP MP Svend Robinson tabled a private member's bill designed to amend the Criminal Code to allow doctor-assisted suicide at a patient's request. In November 1997 Robinson tried again to change the law with another private member's bill. Both requests were denied.

. On March 8, 1993, Rodriguez lost another legal battle. By a vote of 2-1, the B.C Court of Appeal turned down Rodriguez's application. Justices Patricia Proudfoot and Bud Hollingrake voted against the appeal while Chief Justice Allan McEachern voted in favour, ruling that Rodriguez did have the right to doctor-assisted suicide.


Sue Rodriguez and the Right-To-Die Debate more