Canada Again Debates Assisted Suicide

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Aug. 2 (UPI) — The debate to legalize assisted suicides has resurfaced in Canada, where two challenges are in provincial courts this week in British Columbia.

The Farewell Foundation, which advocates supervised and regulated assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, is challenging the provincial government for denying it non-profit status, the Globe and Mail reported.

The group is also taking on the federal government, claiming the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is unconstitutional by making it a criminal offense to assist in a suicide, carrying a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

The affidavit challenging the federal statutes alleges the criminal designation “causes immeasurable physical and psychological suffering to persons of sound mind who are capable of making informed decisions and who wish to end their own lives in order to avoid that suffering,” the report said.

The suit said its intent was to test “whether Parliament is entitled to cause such suffering to the people of Canada.”

Russel Ogden, an instructor in criminology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University outside Vancouver, told the newspaper he expected the cases to end up before the federal Supreme Court.

That court last ruled 5-4 against assisted suicide in a 1993 case involving a British Columbia woman with Lou Gehrig’s disease who ended up traveling to Europe for help in dying.

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