Today the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled legislation that would authorize the medical practice of aid in dying across all of Canada’s provinces and territories. The bill is similar to Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which took effect in 1997. A Canadian Supreme Court ruling last year required Parliament to implement an aid-in-dying law and, following an extension, the deadline to do so is June 6, 2016.
The co-author of the Oregon aid-in-dying law is Barbara Coombs Lee, an attorney who worked as an ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant for 25 years. Coombs Lee is also president of Compassion & Choices, the oldest and most active end-of-life advocacy group in the U.S., and today she issued this statement:
“Canadians are soon to have a law that honors an individual’s dignity, freedom and personal values at the end of life, similar to what has served Oregonians so well for nearly 20 years. The Canadian legislation provides guidelines about who would be eligible for what they are calling “medically assisted death,” and we know that Oregon’s specific eligibility criteria give physicians here a lot of confidence in making that determination. In Oregon, a person must be terminally ill with a prognosis of 6 months or less to live, and that kind of clarity is essential for ensuring doctors participate and make this option widely accessible.”