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Assisted Suicide Law Proposed in Canada

  • Wayne Lee

FILE - Gloria Taylor (R) enters the B.C Supreme Court with the help of Lee Carter, a fellow plaintiff in the case challenging the law regarding assisted-suicide in Vancouver, British Columbia on Dec. 1, 2011. Canada is announcing a new assisted-suicide law Thursday.

FILE - Gloria Taylor (R) enters the B.C Supreme Court with the help of Lee Carter, a fellow plaintiff in the case challenging the law regarding assisted-suicide in Vancouver, British Columbia on Dec. 1, 2011. Canada is announcing a new assisted-suicide law Thursday.

The government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed an assisted-suicide law Thursday, more than a year after the country's Supreme Court struck down measures that banned euthanasia, declaring that outlawing it deprives people of the ability to die with dignity.

The legislation, announced by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, establishes who is eligible for physician-assisted suicide and under what circumstances.

The legislation would apply to adults who suffer from conditions where death is “reasonably foreseeable.” Those who are mentally competent, over the age of 18 and in a state of health that is advanced and in irreversible decline are eligible.

The measure will exclude mentally ill and psychiatric patients and those who present advance requests. The government has proposed that the government study those issues.

If it becomes law, assisted-suicide would only apply to Canadians, meaning non-Canadians cannot travel to Canada for the purpose of being euthanized.

Prime Minister Trudeau applauded those responsible for drafting the bill, saying “This will have a positive, significant impact on the lives of Canadians.”

After striking down an assisted-suicide law 14 months ago, the high court delayed enacting its ruling to give lawmakers time to craft new legislation.

The decision to strike down the law was prompted by cases related to two British Columbia women who have since died. The ruling reversed a 1993 Supreme Court decision. At that time, justices were concerned that vulnerable people could not be adequately protected.

Doctors may legally help people die in a few other countries including Albania, Colombia, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and in five U.S. states. Assisted suicide is also legal under certain strict conditions in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

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