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Canada’s Supreme Court has given the government a four month extension to pass legislation on euthanasia, after which there will be no legal protections.

The court struck down a law banning euthanasia last February in the case of Carter v. Canada.

The ruling gave the parliament 12 months to pass a law codifying a national euthanasia policy, which it has yet to do.

At the same time, Quebec’s government has announced it will not prosecute doctors who implement the euthanasia policy and this month the first death by assisted suicide was registered at a medical facility.

Dr Paul Saba, who legally challenged the government’s euthanasia law, noted that the World Medical Association has clearly said that “euthanasia is not a medical act” and pointed out that “the criteria the government is using to permit euthanasia is full of holes”.

Amy Hasbrouck with the disabilities rights group Not Dead Yet raised concerns that safeguards are not being put in place to protect patients from coercion, including little home support, palliative care, and other services.

“If the person wants to die at home but ends up in a prison-like facility with one bath a week and everyone getting up at the same time, this is not a dignified way to live. A person may choose euthanasia because social services are not enough. This is coercive,” stated Hasbrouck.

[PNCI, Newsletter, Volume 10, No 1, January 29, 2016]