Canada’s senate passed a bill on Wednesday that expands access to medically assisted dying for more Canadians with medical issues. The bill received royal assent a day later, thereby becoming law.
The new legislation eliminates the requirement that a person’s death be “reasonably foreseeable” to obtain access. Now, those with serious medical issues may request medically assisted dying care so long as they meet the safeguard requirements.
A notable safeguard is a mandatory and minimum 90-day waiting period from which the patient is first assessed for the care to when the actual procedure may be done. Additionally, the patient may “at any time and in any manner, withdraw their request” for the care. The law also makes clear that a person whose only medical condition is a mental illness may not receive the care.
The law marks a response to a September 2019 Quebec court decision, where a justice found that Canada’s existing law on medically assisted death was unconstitutional because of its restrictive criteria. Those opposing the legislation contend that individuals with disabilities may seek the care due to a lack of supportive care. Others say that the law is necessary to expand the care for people in chronic pain but without reasonably foreseeable deaths.