Assisted Suicide in Canada: The Rodriguez Case (1993)
In the early 1990s, Sue Rodriguez submitted to the courts that section 241(b) of the Criminal Code, which prohibited assisted suicide, was constitutionally invalid. (See also Assisted Suicide in Canada.) Rodriguez suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and wanted the legal right to have a physician’s help in ending her own life. On 30 September 1993, a 5–4 majority of the Supreme Court of Canada upheld section 241(b), declaring that it was constitutional and did not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Nonetheless, Rodriguez committed suicide in February 1994, assisted by an anonymous doctor and in the presence of NDP MP Svend Robinson, who had championed her cause. In 2015, the Supreme Court decided unanimously to strike down the prohibition and allow medically assisted suicide, which was officially legalized with the passing of the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Act on 17 June 2016. In March 2021, new legislation was passed that expanded eligibility for MAID.
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