Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Canada's High Court To Hear Case On Mature Minor's Relgious Rights

Canada's Supreme Court today will hear arguments in A.C. v. Director of Child and Family Services, a case raising the question of whether mature minors have the right under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms to refuse a blood transfusion on religious grounds. Today's Toronto Globe and Mail reports that the question is raised by a 14-year old Winnipeg girl who was forced to have a blood transfusion to replace blood lost through Crohn's disease even though she claimed the procedure violated her Jehovah's Witness beliefs. Manitoba's Child and Family Services Act authorized doctors to ignore the minor's objections. A summary by Canada's Supreme Court frames the issues in the case:
Whether provisions of The Child and Family Services Act, C.C.S.M. c. C80 are unconstitutional on the basis that they infringe child’s rights under ss. 2(a), 7 and 15(1) of the Charter - If so, whether infringement is justified as a reasonable limit - Should capacity or an arbitrary legislated age determine a capable patient’s Charter right to make medical treatment decisions - Does s. 1 of the Charter require the state to lead compelling evidence justifying arbitrary age legislation that overrides a capable patient’s medical treatment decisions.
UPDATE: The Canadian Press reports on Tuesday's oral arguments in which the parties sparred over the constitutionality of Manitoba's law.