Ban Lifted on Assisted Suicide

A landmark ruling on February 6, 2015, overturned the Canadian ban on doctor-assisted suicide.  The Supreme Court decision will take effect in one year, allowing for time to establish governing regulations. 

The reversal of the decision made in 1993 will allow adults of sound mind who suffer from a severe and incurable medical condition, the right to die with the help of a doctor.  The illness does not need to be terminal.

It is anticipated that doctors will not be expected to assist a patient with suicide but rather follow their conscience.   The decision may polarize doctors on both sides of this complicated issues; those who support right-to-die legislation and those who feel it goes against the basic principal of “do no harm”.  

According to a recent report from the Canadian Medical Association, the organization now “supports the right of all physicians, within the bounds of existing legislation, to follow their conscience when deciding whether to provide medical aid in dying.”

Although it will be 12 months before the legislation will go into effect,  the decision opens up an opportunity to talk with loved ones about a living will and end of life planning.