The federal government has introduced controversial new legislation laying out the conditions under which seriously ill or dying Canadians may ask a doctor to help them end their lives.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the current law unconstitutional more than a year ago. The new legislation is more restrictive than recommended by a parliamentary committee in February. Today’s bill says there should be a choice of medically assisted death “for adults who are suffering intolerably and for whom death is reasonably foreseeable.” The committee had urged the government to minimize the obstacles in front of Canadians who want a doctor’s help to end their suffering.
The new legislation says those who seek help to end their lives must be mentally competent, 18 or older, have a serious and incurable disease, illness or disability and be in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability. Although it says death would have to be foreseen, there would not have to be a specific prognosis or timeline associated with when that might occur.