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Canada parliament backs assisted-death law

19 June 2016 No Comment

Canada’s parliament has adopted a law allowing medically assisted death for the terminally ill.

The senate’s move brushed aside critics who wanted the legislation to also cover people with degenerative diseases.

After weeks of political wrangling, the upper chamber voted in favour of a law that makes Canada one of the few countries where doctors can legally help sick people die.

Some senators complained the scope of the law – initially passed by the elected House of Commons chamber – was too narrow and should not be restricted to those facing imminent death.

The law, drafted after Canada’s Supreme Court last year overturned a ban on physician-assisted suicide, must receive formal approval from Governor-General David Johnston, the acting head of state. That process is a formality.

The Supreme Court ruling covered willing adults facing intolerable physical or psychological suffering from a severe and incurable medical condition.

The Liberal government, though, narrowed the scope of the legislation to cover only those people whose death was reasonably foreseeable.

Critics said that would condemn people with degenerative conditions like multiple sclerosis to unbearable suffering.

Government officials say the new law could be broadened in years to come.

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