Canada court says suicide laws unconstitutional

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As she began her court fight in December 2011, Taylor was confined to a wheelchair in constant pain with hands that barely function.

Taylor said she has challenges with everyday living, and is unable to perform basic household tasks or wash herself.

Opponents argue that allowing assisted deaths could lead to abuses of the elderly and infirm. Johnston of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada fears people could be pushed to kill themselves when their lives become inconvenient for others. Only last year, Parliament voted 228-59 against changing the law to allow doctors to help people die “once the person has expressed his or her free and informed consent to die.”

Those in favor of doctor-assisted suicide have the support of the Royal Society of Canada, the country’s senior scholarly body. Its panel of professors and specialists in medical ethics and health law said in a report issued Nov. 15 that assisted death in Canada should be regulated and monitored rather than criminalized.

It said assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the U.S. states of Oregon, Washington and Montana, while in England and Wales the policy does not stipulate that every case must be prosecuted.

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Associated Press Writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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