06/16/2012 09:10 EDT | Updated 08/16/2012 05:12 EDT

Assisted Suicide Ruling 'Flawed,' Says Archbishop


One day after a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Canada's ban on doctor-assisted suicide infringes on the rights of the terminally ill, several groups are calling for an appeal.

Vancouver Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael Miller issued a statement Saturday saying the decision "sadly reflects a distorted view of equality rights that emphasizes autonomy over human dignity and the value of life."

"We have been down this road many times around the world, and all the safeguards initially put in place wind up either disregarded or eventually dispensed with. The result is euthanasia harms not only those whose lives are taken, but those responsible for taking them," reads the statement.

"I strongly urge the government to appeal this extremely flawed and dangerous ruling."

Some doctors are also calling for the court decision to be challenged, saying their role is to ensure a patient's final days are comfortable.

"It's obviously not always in the best interests of the patient to prolong life," Dr. Margaret Cottle, a palliative care physician, said. "But I think there's a big difference between not prolonging a process that's happening — and actually making people comfortable through that process — and actively killing that person."

Lawyer Joe Arvay, who represents Gloria Taylor — one of the seriously ill plaintiffs in the case — rejects accusations the ruling opens the door to abuse.

"The trial was a place where all these fears were examined in meticulous detail and on the overwhelming evidence the concerns about abuse against the elderly and the disabled are just not warranted," he said on Saturday.

Justice Lynn Smith suspended her ruling for a year to give Parliament the option of changing the law.

Neither the B.C. nor federal government have indicated yet whether they intend to appeal the decision.

The court granted Taylor a constitutional exemption to an assisted suicide.

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