Senators approve amendment allowing advance requests for medical assistance in dying


OTTAWA — Senators have voted to expand Canada’s assisted dying regime to allow individuals who fear losing mental capacity to make advance requests for medical help to end their lives.

The amendment to Bill C-7 was approved by a vote of 47-28, with eight abstentions, and was proposed by Sen. Pamela Wallin, a member of the Canadian Senators Group.

She argues that people who have been diagnosed or fear being diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive-impairing disorders should, while they’re still competent to give consent, be entitled to make advance directives spelling out when they want to receive an assisted death.

Bill C-7 would allow for a form of advance request but only for people who already near the natural end of their lives.

For people who have been approved for an assisted death, the bill would waive the requirement that they are able to give final consent immediately before the procedure is performed.

Wallin’s amendment would apply to people who are not near death and even to those who have not been diagnosed with an irremediable illness but who want to ensure they can obtain an assisted death should they become incompetent at some point in the future.