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Doctors ready to help draft new law if Supreme Court backs patients' right to die

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February 05, 2015 - 1:15 PM

TORONTO - The organization representing Canada's doctors says it plans to play an integral role in crafting new right-to-die regulations if the Supreme Court of Canada strikes down the existing law banning assisted suicide.

The court is to deliver its judgment Friday on a challenge to the federal law that makes it a criminal offence to "counsel, aid or abet" another person to commit suicide.

The Canadian Medical Association has long opposed physician-assisted death, but it now says there may be rare occasions when the suffering of an incurably ill patient may make medical aid in dying appropriate.

Assisted suicide is a hot-button issue among physicians, who voted 91 per cent in favour of a CMA resolution last August that would allow doctors to follow their conscience if medically aided dying becomes legal.

A 2014 survey of 5,000 CMA members found that 45 per cent favoured legalizing physician-assisted death, while 27 per cent said they would likely participate if the act is legalized.

CMA president Dr. Chris Simpson says that if the law is struck down, the organization will examine ways to support doctors who choose to participate in assisted dying with education and training.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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