Sick Canadian Patients Can Now Die With Doctors' Help

Highest court gets rid of ban on assisted suicide for the mentally competent
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 6, 2015 10:18 AM CST
Sick Canadian Patients Can Now Die With Doctors' Help
This undated file photo provided by the Maynard family shows Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old terminally ill woman who died under Oregon's law that allows the terminally ill to end their own lives.   (AP Photo/Maynard Family, File)

Canada's highest court has unanimously struck down a ban on doctor-assisted suicide for mentally competent but suffering and "irremediable" patients. The Supreme Court's decision today sweeps away the existing law and gives Parliament a year to draft new legislation that recognizes the right of consenting adults who are enduring intolerable suffering to seek medical help ending their lives. The judgment says the current ban infringes on the life, liberty, and security of individuals under the country's constitution.

It had previously been illegal in Canada to counsel, aid, or abet a suicide, an offense carrying a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. The decision reverses a ruling the Supreme Court made in 1993. At the time, the court was primarily concerned that vulnerable people couldn't be properly protected under physician-assisted suicide. (More Canada stories.)

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