Canada allows assisted death for terminally ill

Canada’s parliament has adopted a law allowing medically-assisted death for the terminally ill, ignoring critics who wanted the legislation to cover people with degenerative diseases.

After weeks of political wrangling, the upper Senate chamber voted in favour of making Canada one of the few nations in which doctors can legally help sick people to die.

Some senators complained that the scope of the law — initially passed by the House of Commons elected chamber — was too narrow and should not be restricted to those facing imminent death. 

The law, drafted after Canada’s Supreme Court last year overturned a ban on physician-assisted suicide, must receive formal approval from governor general, David Johnston, the acting head of state. That is a formality.

The Supreme Court ruling covered willing adults facing intolerable physical or psychological suffering caused by a severe and incurable medical condition.

The Liberal government, though, narrowed the scope of the legislation to people whose death was reasonably foreseeable. 

Critics said this would condemn people with degenerative conditions, like multiple sclerosis, to unbearable suffering.

Government officials say the new law is a first attempt to address a controversial topic and could be broadened in years to come.


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