Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Daughter Majgan, right, and wife Parichehr Salasel display family photos to Hassan Rasouli at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Dec. 06 2012.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

The religious beliefs of a vegetative patient on life support cannot be a determining factor in whether or not he is allowed to die, the Supreme Court of Canada was told this morning.

"Doctors must refuse a wish for inappropriate treatment," Harry Underwood, a lawyer for several doctors caught up in a right-to-live struggle told a seven-judge panel.

"Wishes cannot override the standard of care. The result is the same whether it is a religious belief or a non-religious belief. All wishes deserve the same respect."

Story continues below advertisement

The court panel began a one-day hearing Monday morning into the historic appeal involving end-of-life treatment. It is expected to release a ruling in several months.

The court will decide whether an unconscious man at the centre of the case, Hassan Rasouli, can be take off the life-support devices that have sustained him since his brain was attacked by a post-surgery infection in late 2010.

Mr. Rasouli's family insist that the family's devout Islamic belief dictates that Mr. Rasouli must be kept alive as long as humanly possible.

However, the Sunnybrook Health Centre doctors caring for Mr. Rasouli maintain that their medical judgment should be the determining factor – and they believe he should be taken off life support.

Mr. Underwood said that doctors do not simply ignore the perspective of a family or substitute decision-maker, but it would be medically and ethically wrong for them to let it sway their medical conclusions.

Patients who are kept alive despite there being no hope of recovery waste away as their bodies degenerate, he said.

"Artificially prolonging life inflicts a terrible indignity," Mr. Underwood said. "These patients are not just kept alive – they are forced to be kept alive."

Story continues below advertisement

Despite the importance of the case, Mr. Justice Michael Moldaver is not sitting on the panel because he helped craft the Ontario Court of Appeal decision that is under appeal.

To prevent the possibility of a tie vote, the court's most junior judge – Mr. Justice Richard Wagner – was also left off the appeal panel.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies