Intended for healthcare professionals


Canada’s Supreme Court rules in favour of physician assisted suicide

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 09 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h764
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

Canada’s long political battle over physician assisted suicide seems to have been settled decisively by a unanimous decision of the country’s Supreme Court, which has struck down a century old law imposing up to 14 years’ imprisonment on doctors who help patients end their lives.

From the outset of proceedings in October, the nine justices had seemed sceptical of arguments put forward by the federal government’s lawyers, who said that the criminal penalty was essential to protect vulnerable people from being pressured to kill themselves. The justices’ decision was written “by the court,” rather than an individual judge, an unusual step intended to signify strong …

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