01/16/2014 09:51 EST | Updated 03/18/2014 05:59 EDT

Assisted suicide case appeal to be heard by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Canada said today it will hear an appeal by the BC Civil Liberties Association — a case that could grant terminally ill Canadians the right to assisted suicide.

The case seeks to allow seriously and incurably ill but mentally competent adults the right to receive medical assistance to hasten death under specific safeguards.  

The BCCLA had asked the top court to hear the appeal, arguing criminal laws that deny seriously ill Canadians the right to choose an assisted death are unconstitutional, and the issue is of profound national importance.  

In 2012, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled the Criminal Code of Canada provisions against assisted dying violate the rights of the gravely ill, and gave Parliament one year to rewrite the laws.

But the federal government appealed and the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned the lower court's ruling in late 2013 and upheld the ban, stating it was bound by the Supreme Court of Canada's 20-year-old Rodriguez decision.