“in the non-religious sense . .
. to mean that human life is
seen to have a deep intrinsic
value of its own”) and “human
The EFC presented these
two principles in 1993 in an
assisted suicide case named
after Sue Rodriguez. They
became vital to the Supreme
Court’s decision – and to its
subsequent decision in a 2001
euthanasia case named after
Robert Latimer, another in which the EFC
These “Charter values,” as they’re
called, were also important in an assisted
suicide case decided last October in the
B.C. Court of Appeal, another in which
the EFC intervened. (That case is named
after Lee Carter, who helped her mother
Kay arrange an assisted suicide in Switzerland.)
Protecting human life is important to
Evangelicals, because each person is created by God in God’s image.
Over the decades the EFC has intervened before the Supreme Court eight
times in cases dealing with life.
In one of these Harvard University was
attempting to patent a genetically modified mouse. The EFC argued that allowing
the patenting of animals would turn life
into an object. We also argued that permit-ting the first patent of a higher life form
would establish a precedent that could
have led to the genetic modification and
patenting of human beings. Think about
the biotechnology issues in the news today, and the foresight required to make
that argument in 2002!
The EFC is also well known for strong
and clear engagement on the topic of
In December The Evangelical Fellow- ship of Canada applied to make its 25th appearance before the Supreme
Court of Canada. The first time was 25
years earlier in 1988, in a case dealing
with the legal status of the child in the
Curiously, 25 is also the number of
times the EFC has appeared in lower
courts, primarily provincial and federal
courts of appeal.
Some might think, amid all these 25th
anniversaries, that we’ve either won or
lost a lot of lawsuits. But the truth is different.
While we might favour one side of a
case or the other, we aren’t actually intervening to help one party win. The EFC
goes to court to win the advancement
of biblical principles in practical legal
application. And we seek to secure the
continuing rights of Christians to live out
our beliefs and practices in Canada.
In any court battle there are parties –
the primary combatants. But groups such
as the EFC that have an interest can also
apply to intervene.
A successful application must demonstrate the decision in the case will
have an impact on the applicant beyond
simply the interest of the parties, that the
applicant can bring a unique perspective
to inform and benefit the court, and that
the applicant has enough of the necessary
expertise in the area to be of assistance.
The EFC has so far not been denied
intervener status. We have proven we
can meet these requirements, offer an
informed national perspective and communicate in appropriate legal language.
So, a court decision that “goes in our
favour” is one which accepts and advances the principles presented in our intervention, sometimes regardless of which
party appears to win.
Two of the principles our courts have
accepted as underlying the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms are “
sanctity of human life” (as the court stated,
Protecting Human Life and religious Freedom
By Don Hutchinson
activateChangeyour World n FroM THE EFC’s CEn TrE For FAITH AnD PUBlIC lIFE
We have appeared
before the Supreme
Court nine times in
cases challenging religious freedom.
Both the protection of life and religious freedom overlapped in one recent
intervention, in a case
named for Hassan
Rasouli, a comatose
man whose wife objected to his doctors’
desire to remove life support. When physicians and family members disagree, the
Supreme Court of Canada declared on
October 18 of this year, a major medical
decision should be referred to a dispute
resolution body – where the patient’s religious beliefs must be considered.
For the EFC the case wasn’t about
keeping people alive indefinitely on machines or expense to the medical system.
It was about the sanctity of life, human
dignity, and respecting the religious beliefs and practices of patients.
The EFC argued from a track record
established over two and a half decades
of translating biblical principles into the
language of the courts. Thanks to the sup-
port of many, we have been able to do so
in a logical, sensible, accepted and influ-
ential way. FT
DOn Hu TCHInSOn is vice-president and
general legal counsel with The Evangelical
Fellowship of Canada and director of the
EFC’s Centre for Faith and Public life. He
blogs at www.theEFC.ca/activateCFPl.
Please pray for our work. you can also
support it financially at www.theEFC.ca/
donate or toll-free 1-866-302-3362.
The EFC will be in the supreme Court again
soon, continuing a 25-year effort.
For details on the legal cases mentioned:
• Rodriguez, Latimer and Carter: www.theEFC.ca/resourcesonEuthanasia
• Harvard mouse: www.theEFC.ca/resourcesonGenetics
• Rasouli: www.theEFC.ca/rasouli