No changes coming to assisted-death law yet, justice minister says
Published Friday, November 2, 2018 11:47AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, November 2, 2018 2:11PM EDT
OTTAWA – Canada's current physician-assisted death law strikes the appropriate balance and changes will not be coming at this point, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said Friday.
Her comments defending the current law come one day after the death of Audrey Parker, a cancer patient who said Canada's law on medically assisted death didn't allow her to end her life on her own terms.
"Our government remains strong in our position that we have reached the appropriate balance between protecting the autonomy of individuals that want to access medical assistance in dying as well as protecting vulnerable people," Wilson-Raybould said.
Parker fought until her final hours for changes to Canada's laws requiring anyone choosing a medically assisted death to be conscious and mentally sound immediately before a lethal injection. This meant she would be denied an approved medically-assisted death if her condition suddenly worsened and she couldn't offer final consent.
The justice minister said she is not currently considering changes to the law.
"That's not to say that this isn’t going to be an ongoing conversation that we as a country have, an important conversation," Wilson-Raybould said.
On Thursday, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor told reporters she’d heard Parker's story and wished she could do something, but can't as the government is in the middle of gathering recommendations for the law.
The legislation that put into force Canada's current physician-assisted dying law, included a provision requiring that within 180 days of the bill passing, the government initiate an independent review of outstanding issues. Opening up the law to allow mature minors to seek medical assisted death, and permit advance directive requests, as well as requests where mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition, are the issues the experts on the panel are reviewing.
The review is set to wrap up by the end of the year, and the findings will be tabled in Parliament.
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