April 18, 2016
Nearly two decades after Sue Rodriguez first appealed to the Supreme Court to help end her life, it looks like Canada’s legal landscape is on the verge of drastically changing with respect to its assisted dying laws. But just how drastic the new laws would be is up for debate.
While the Liberal’s new bill would allow for physician-assisted dying in Canada, it contains a set of specific criteria that must be met for those turning to doctors to help end their lives.
The proposed legislated, which was tabled in Parliament last week, would only pertain to adults over 18 years of age, who are mentally competent and suffer from a serious and incurable illness. These adults must be experiencing intolerable suffering as a result of “an advanced state of irreversible decline in capacity.”
Crucially, only those whose “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable” would fall under the bill’s set of criteria — yet the bill does not specify or propose any timeline that would constitute as “reasonably foreseeable.”
But that’s not all: the bill stipulates that a person must-go-through a 15-day period of reflection and consent before they can end their life. Two witnesses with no financial interest to the patient, as well as two doctors or nurses would also be required to evaluate the patient’s request.
Many physicians applaud the bill for approaching assisted dying with caution and including measures that help protect the vulnerable, while some are criticizing the bill for not going far enough. Needless to say, it is clear that years from now, lawyers will look back on this moment as a major breakthrough for right-to-die advocates.
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For more on the Liberals’ assisted-dying bill, visit The Globe and Mail.
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