Canada’s Supreme Court has unanimously struck down a ban on doctor-assisted suicides for mentally competent adults suffering an incurable disease. The Canadian Parliament has been given 12 months to enact legislation to comply with the Supreme Court guidelines.

“The prohibition on physician-assisted dying infringes the right to life, liberty and security of the person in a manner that is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice,” the court wrote, adding that an absolute ban was not needed to ensure that vulnerable people are not coerced “to commit suicide at a time of weakness.”

In June 2014  Quebec Parliament passed an Act respecting end-of-life care, which allows terminally ill patients to choose an assisted death. The vote was 94 in favour and only 22 against, and all four political parties WORKED TOGETHER to achieve this result.  Until the Supreme Court ruling, that legislation seemed likely to be at least challenged and possibly overturned under federal criminal law.
Last August, the Canadian Medical Association altered its long-established opposition to doctors assisting in suicides. Its new policy allows physicians, within the bounds of laws, “to follow their conscience when deciding whether to provide medical aid in dying.” (NY TImes, 7.2.15)

It is now up to our Australian politicians, and the Australian Medical Association to emulate our Canadian friends!

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