Beliefs

Canada drafts assisted dying law that bans ‘suicide tourism’

A nurse or doctor gives a patient medication. Canada has drafter legislation to allow doctor-assisted dying. Photo via Shutterstock

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada‘s Liberal government on Thursday unveiled draft legislation on doctor-assisted suicide which would apply to adults suffering serious and incurable illness and where death is reasonably foreseeable.

A nurse or doctor gives a patient medication. Canada has drafter legislation to allow doctor-assisted dying.

A nurse or doctor gives a patient medication. Canada has drafter legislation to allow doctor-assisted dying.

The government, though, did not adopt suggestions from a parliamentary committee which had suggested the law should also apply to those who suffer only from mental illness, or those who put forward advance requests. The government proposed independent bodies study those issues and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supports the legislation.

The Supreme Court of Canada overturned a ban on physician-assisted suicide last year, unanimously reversing a decision it made in 1993 and putting Canada in the company of a handful of Western countries to make it legal.


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In December, a Quebec court ruled the province can implement Canada‘s first law permitting physician-assisted suicide while the federal government decides on a framework for how to handle the issue.

According to The Associated Press,  there will be no “suicide tourism” by Americans or others crossing the border to die.

Canadian Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said the bill also will protect the conscience of health care providers who provide suicide assistance, according to The Associated Press.

Last fall California joined Washington, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico and Montana in legalizing option for someone suffering from a terminal illness to request a lethal prescription from a physician. The law is expected to take effect in California some time this summer.

Already, physician assisted dying is legal in Switzerland, Germany, Albania, Columbia and Japan while three other nations have broader laws permitting euthanasia — in which a doctor may directly kill someone in great pain with a hopeless medical prognosis, according to the Associated Press.

 

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