11 July 2016 / 17 June 2016 / 6 February 2015
On 17 June 2016, Bill C-14 – an Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying) – passed in the House of Commons and the Senate and is now law in Canada.
Legislative Summary of Bill C-14 (Link)
Bill C-14 in English and French (Link / PDF)
End of Life Planning Canada (Link)
Right to die Society of Canada (Link)
Dying with Dignity Canada (Link)
However, Bill C-14 will be challenged in court because it conflicts with the Supreme Court’s decision: by limiting access to only those patients whose natural deaths are “reasonably foreseeable”, the new law denies rightful access to entire classes of patients who have severe chronic conditions but who are not approaching end of life. (Link)
On 6 February 2015, in a unanimous 9:0 decision Canada’s Supreme Court has struck down the country’s Criminal Code laws prohibiting physician-assisted suicide. The rule will not come into force for another 12 months; however, it means it will no longer be against the law, under certain circumstances, for a doctor to help someone who is terminally ill to end their life.
In the words of MP Steven Flechter: ''It's unCanadian not to allow people to be empowered to make end of life decisions for themselves." (Link)
A brief summary of the case by the BCCLA (Link)
Supreme Court judgment of Carter v. Canada (Link)
Media coverage (Link)
As part of its response to the Carter decision, the Government of Canada has established the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada. The mandate of the Panel is to engage Canadians and key stakeholders on issues the federal government will need to consider in its response to the Carter ruling.
External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada (Link)
The panel visited DIGNITAS on 7 September 2015 (Link)
Additionally to general information, all available on the it’s website,
DIGNITAS presented the panel upon their visit with a paper/submission (PDF)
DIGNITAS has also written and submitted a paper with a complete law proposal for Canada, the “Draft Act to Provide for Accompanied Suicide with Assistance by Registered Charitable Not-for-Profit Organisations (Accompanied Suicide Act – ASA)” (PDF)
The panel learned much from the European experience (Link)
However, there has been criticism on the Panel being that Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov and Catherine Frazee – two of the three panellists – were witnesses against assisted dying in the Carter v. Canada case. This raises questions as to the independence of the panel, it undermines its credibility and it could lead to a biased final report. (Link)
Furthermore, there has been critique that the survey the panel used was designed to manufacture fear, for example by telling people that “some say” that assisted dying may decrease resources for the disabled and then asking whether people are concerned. Or the question of whether a hypothetical 17-year-old with a full and complete understanding of his or her condition should be able to receive a doctor's help to die – whilst in fact the Supreme Court decision dealt only with adults, not emancipated minors. (Link); for a full report read: A Methodological Analysis of the Issues Book Survey on Doctor-Assisted Dying (Link/PDF)
21 January 2015 / 4 June 2015 / 4 + 11 September 2015 / 5 October 2015
Californian State Senators Lois Wolk, Bill Monning and others, backed by Brittany Maynard’ family, introduced the ‘End of Life Option Act: modelled after the 1997 Oregon Dying with Dignity Act, the Bill would give a terminally ill, mentally competent adult resident in California, the right to ask and receive from his or her physician a prescription for a lethal drug to end his or her suffering.
Senate Bill SB-128 End of Life (Link to California Legislative Information)
On 4 June 2015, the Californian Senate passed the End of Life Option Act (SB 128) by 23 to 14 votes. The Bill thus moves on to the vote in the Assembly (Link)
On 2 September 2015, the Public Health and Developmental Services Committee of the California Assembly approved of the California End of Life Option Act by 10 : 3 votes, and two days later the Assembly Finance Commitee by 5 : 3 votes. In a next step, the bill will be voted on by both houses of the California Legislature.
On 11 September, the End of Life Option Act (SB 128) was approved by 23 : 14 votes of the Senators after it was approved by 43 : 34 votes in the Assembly.
On 5 October 2015, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed the End of Life Option Act. "I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn't deny that right to others." he wrote in his signing message. Thus, California becomes a further US-State in which terminally ill have freedom of choice to self-determinedly end their suffering with physician’s assessment and prescription of medication.
11 September 2015
The British Lower Chamber, the House of Commons, held an extensive debate on the Assisted Dying Bill introduced by Rob Marris. The proposed Bill was rejected by 330 against 118 votes.
Minutes of the debate in the House of Commons (PDF)
Dignitas is very disappointed that UK residents are still forced to travel to Dignitas. The 330 MPs who voted against the Assisted Dying Bill should be ashamed for their disgraceful ignorance towards the clear public opinion which is pro-choice in ‘last matters’, and even more so for forcing the people who elect them and pay taxes for them to go abroad when all they want is to have the basic human right of a self-determined, accompanied by loved ones and safe end of suffering.
Clearly, these 330 MPs do not respect what the European Court of Human Rights has ruled on January 20th, 2011 (application no. 31322/07, judgement Haas, paragraph 51):
‘In the light of this jurisdiction, the Court finds that the right of an individual to decide how and when to end his life, provided that said individual was in a position to make up his own mind in that respect and to take the appropriate action, was one aspect of the right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the Convention'
Dignitas sends a big Thank You to all of the 118 MPs who supported the Assisted Dying Bill. They show that there is humanism and there is hope to one day pass a Bill which will give people the freedom of choice they have been asking for decades.
The main aim of Dignitas is to disappear; for this, since 1998, Dignitas works for the worldwide implementation of ‘the last human right’ – which is free choice in end-of-life options and therefore includes access to an accompanied suicide. As soon as the UK and further countries implement what is sensible and humane – which is the Swiss thirty year practice in combining palliative care, suicide attempt prevention, advance directives and the right to choose in life and at life’s end – nobody from the UK or anywhere else will have to travel to Dignitas anymore and thus Dignitas will and can close down.
18. July 2014
The British Upper Chamber, the House of Lords, held an extensive debate on the Assisted Dying Bill by Lord Falconer. In this Second Reading with a record 126 speakers, the Bill was supported by 64 against 59 with 3 neutral and therefore it will move on to Committee Stage.
Minutes of the debate (PDF)
23 January 2012 / 1 May 2012
In Scotland, parliament member Margo MacDonald lodged a proposal for a Bill, the „Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bil", to enable a competent adult with a terminal illness or condition to request assistance to end their own life, and to decriminalise certain actions taken by others to provide such assistance.
A consultation was held until 30 April 2012.
The proposed Bill includes elements of the practice of accompanied suicides in Switzerland as well as of the „Death with Dignity Act” of the US-State of Oregon.
Website of the Scottish Parliament with consultation document (Link)
Response/submission of DIGNITAS to the consultation (PDF)
22 March 2012
In Canada, the Quebec National Assembly’s delivered its long-awaited report “Mourir dans la dignité” (“Dying with Dignity”). The Quebec report recommends that doctors should be permitted to perform euthanasia or “medical aid in dying” in exceptional circumstances, yet it is against assisted suicide.
Details on the Report on the website of the Quebec National Assembly (Link)
The report was presented as a progressive and important “first” provincial initiative in Canada, however, both the report and commentators on it appeared to forget that more than 20 years ago a British Columbia (BC) Royal Commission approved of what it believed was widespread support for the right to die with dignity: The 1991 report, “Closer to Home”, was the work of a BC Royal Commission on Health Care and Costs. Under the heading of “Requested Mercy Killing” the Commission recommended that the BC government ask the federal Canadian government to amend the Criminal Code s.241(b) so that physicians could prescribe, and health care workers could administer, pain relief medication in a fatal dose.
5 May 2011 / 3 October 2011 / 5 January 2012
In England, Lord Falconer launched The Commission on Assisted Dying which - amongst other aims - shall investigate the circumstances under which it should be possible for people to be assisted to die. See their website www.commissiononassisteddying.co.uk. In answer to the Commission's Call for evidence, DIGNITAS handed in a submission:
Submission of DIGNITAS to the Commission on Assisted Dying (PDF)
The submission by DIGNITAS is now online, on the website of the Commission, (No. 1012, Evidence from Dignitas), amongst many other submissions.
Upon the visit of two delegates of the Commission on Assisted Dying, DIGNITAS provided additional notes to answer specific questions of the Commissioneers. Available here (PDF)
Final Report of the Commission on Assisted Dying (Link)
January - December 2010
Member of the Scottish Parliament Margo MacDonald introduced the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill to permit assistance to be given to persons who wish their lives to be ended; and for connected purposes.
Details of the Bill on the website of The Scottish Parliament
12 May 2006
Second reading of the “Assisted dying for the terminally ill bill” proposed by Lord Joffe in view of introducing a British law on assistance in dying.
Minutes of the reading in the House of Lords (PDF)
10 October 2005
The British Upper Chamber, the House of Lords, held an extensive debate on the report by the Select Committee which examined a bill introduced by Lord Joffe, a law on assistance in dying for terminally ill patients, the “Assisted dying for the terminally ill bill”
Complete minutes of the debate (PDF)
22 August 2005
Debate in the Zürich Cantonal Council: the Zürich Parliament clearly disapproves of a prohibition of assistance in dying.
Minutes of the Zürich Cantonal Council, pages 8393 - 8414 (PDF, in German)
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