05/17/2012 12:44 EDT | Updated 07/17/2012 05:12 EDT

Life-support case for Toronto man to continue, court rules

The Supreme Court of Canada will continue to hear a case about who can decide when to end life-support for critically-ill people.

Justices quashed a motion Thursday morning that would have halted a case brought by doctors who disagreed with a Toronto family's wishes.

"Debates about whether consciousness is there, in part or completely absent, really don't impinge," Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said in her ruling from the bench. "This court should be clarifying how one proceeds in these circumstances."

"We don't know what the medical evidence will be three months from now. But the process should be clear," McLaughlin said.

The case focuses on Hassan Rasouli, who has been in a Toronto hospital since October 2010 after developing bacterial meningitis following brain surgery.

Doctors wanted to take him off life-support after determining he was in a persistent vegetative state.

His family refused, and the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed that Rasouli's wife had to give her consent for the medical treatment to be stopped.

A lawyer for the man's family said last month that a "thumbs-up" gesture Hassan made from his Toronto hospital bed proves he is conscious and aware, and said the family has received a new diagnosis.

Doctors have not commented on his diagnosis.

This morning's ruling means the court will continue to hear the doctors' appeal in December.