Canadian court hears arguments on physician assisted suicide for severely ill patients

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 20 October 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6336
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

Canada’s Supreme Court this week heard arguments in a case that will decide the legality of physician assisted suicide for severely ill people, amid signs that government lawyers face an uphill fight in persuading justices of the benefits of the current law, under which doctors’ assistance in dying is a crime equivalent to manslaughter.

The constitutional challenge was brought by the children of Kathleen Carter, who had to travel to Switzerland at age 89 to end her life, and resembles a landmark 1993 case in which the court ruled 5-4 against legalising the practice. But the current hearing takes place in a much transformed political landscape.

A week before the case opened, an Ipsos …

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