DOCTOR-ASSISTED DYING LEGISLATION MAKES FOR 'AN HISTORIC DAY'
Apr 14, 2016
By Bob Komsic
If you’re at least 18, mentally competent with a serious and incurable disease, disability or illness and in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability, you would be eligible to seek medical assisted dying to help end your life if that was your wish.
That’s the essence of the Trudeau government’s just unveiled legislation on the question of doctor-assisted death.
The bill spells out specific eligibility criteria that must be met:
1/ The patient must be 18 or older and ”competent”
2/ The patient must have a ”grievous and irremediable medical condition” defined as having all the following elements.
–A ”serious and incurable illness, disease or disability” and be in an advanced state of ”irreversible decline in capabilities”
–Enduring physical or psychological suffering, caused by the medical condition, that is intolerable to the person and cannot be relieved.
–Natural death must be ”reasonably forseeable” however it doesn’t have to be imminent
3/ Make a voluntary request
4/ Provide ”informed consent” to a medical assistance to end their life
5/ Be covered under provincial health insurance plans – a move to prevent the formation of a medical death tourism industry
Dying with Dignity Canada’s Shanaaz Gokool calls the bill narrow and discriminatory, excluding millions from their right to die peacefully.
The government’s promising to appoint one or more independent bodies to study some outstanding issues not dealt with in the bill, including whether to allow those with conditions like dementia to give advance directives, as well as cover those suffering from mental illnesses and so-called mature minors.
Health Minister Jane Philpott, a physician, calls it ”an historic day for our country.”
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould says drafting the bill was ”incredibly” emotional, noting her grandfather died of Alzheimer’s.
Bill C-14 as it’s officially known must be debated in Parliament and passed before the Supreme Court of Canada imposed deadline of June 7.
If the bill’s challenged in the courts, Wilson-Raybould feels ”confident in terms of this legislation being able to withstand Charter (of Rights and Freedom) challenges.”