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It has been over a year since Canada’s Supreme Court decriminalised doctor-assisted suicide, but the country is still grappling with how to put the controversial practice into place. At the centre of the discussion is C-14, a bill being pushed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. If passed the bill would not give “mature minors” and the mentally ill access to death by medical assistance. Those with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s would also be restricted from giving advance consent for the treatment.
Activists and religious groups have long opposed any form of assisted suicide, but the loudest opposition to the government’s bill is coming from “right-to-die” advocates themselves who feel C-14 is too restrictive. They say the bill is illegal because its stipulations conflict with last year’s Supreme Court ruling.
But Trudeau says the bill is a responsible first step that balances defending rights and freedoms with protecting the vulnerable. His government is urging lawmakers to meet a deadline of June 6, the day the Supreme Court’s ruling goes into effect. Missing the deadline, the government fears, would mean that assisted death would be available to patients without any legal framework in place. This in turn would mean that doctors may provide the option to patients who shouldn’t be eligible, or that they may not provide it at all because of a lack of legal protection. However, others have downplayed those concerns, and stress the importance of not rushing the legislation.
In this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Will Johnston @CdnLifeDocs
President, Canadian Physicians for Life
Mental health advocate
Shanaaz Gokool @DWDCanada
CEO, Dying With Dignity Canada
Michael Bach @CACL_ACIC
Executive Vice President, Canadian Association for Community Living
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