Later, she added, “We need to provide the most comfort to people when they are nearing the end of their lives.”
No one would be excluded—even those with mental illness, officials said. However, they must meet all government requirements on the severity of their illness. Officials said there are measures to further study mental illness, as well.
While assisted suicide is legal in the U.S. states of Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, it is not legal across the rest of the country. In June, California will begin to allow assisted suicide, as well. Albania, Colombia, Germany, Japan, and Switzerland also allow assisted suicide. In Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, assisted suicide is legal in limited circumstances.
Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that consenting adults with a “grievous and irremediable” medical condition that causes “enduring suffering” have the constitutional right to end their lives through the assistance of a physician. In its ruling, the Court wrote this right was “critical to their dignity and autonomy.”
The ruling came after two British Columbia families challenged the ban on assisted suicide set in place by a Court decision from 1993. Previously, those who aided in suicide could have been sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Originally, the Canadian Supreme Court gave parliament a year to pass new legislation to regulate doctor-assisted suicide, following its February 2015 ruling. However, a court order from the Supreme Court gave the new Liberal government a four-month extension to write and pass a new law.
Without this new legislation, people would have to face a “cruel choice” about ending their lives, argued civil-liberties groups. “They either have to take their lives prematurely, at a time when they still can, or be trapped in intolerable suffering or seek the assistance of someone else outside of the legal framework,” Josh Paterson, the executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, told the National Post.
The debate will be both contentious and emotional. Though 77 percent of Canadians support assisted suicide, according to a Forum poll from August, some groups object to the policy. Will Johnson, the president of Canadian Physicians for Life, speaking with the National Post, said there would be “an unconscionable amount of chaos” in the health-care system as a result of this new policy, adding he’s suspicious of what might be “whispered in the ear of their sick, or we hope not depressed, relative.”
After the bill goes through the House of Commons, the Senate must act by the June 6 deadline.