Right-to-die debate

A chronology of the major events in the right-to-die debate:

January 1992 - Quebec Superior Court rules in case of Nancy B. that turning off her respirator at her request would not be a criminal offence.

August 1992 - Toronto nurse Scott Mataya, charged with first-degree murder is death of a terminally ill patient, entered guilty plea to a lesser charge of administering a noxious substance. He receives a suspended sentence and must surrender his nursing licence.

1992 - Sue Rodriguez, a Victoria woman with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), files a lawsuit in BC Supreme Court challenging the laws against assisted suicide. The BC court upholds the law.

Sept. 30, 1993 - In a 5-4 decision, Supreme Court of Canada dismisses Rodriguez's appeal, upholding the blanket ban on assisted death.

Feb. 12, 1994 - Sue Rodriguez dies in her Victoria home with the help of an anonymous doctor.

May 6, 1997 - Halifax's Dr. Nancy Morrison charged with first-degree murder in the death of a terminally ill cancer patient. In February 1998, a judge declined to commit Morrison to stand trial.

1997 - Oregon passes a bill allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending doses of medication to terminally ill patients.

May 1998 - Dr. Maurice Généreux sentenced to two years less a day and three years’ probation for providing drugs to two non-terminal patients so they might commit suicide. The next year, that sentence was confirmed by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

April 2002 - Netherlands becomes the first country to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

September 2002 - Belgium allows euthanasia.

Sept. 28, 2004 - Marielle Houle charged in Montreal with aiding and abetting the suicide of her 36-year-old son. On Jan. 23, 2006, she pled guilty and was sentenced to three years’ probation with conditions.

Nov 5, 2004 - A BC court acquitted Evelyn Martens, 73 and a member of the Right to Die Society of Canada, of aiding and abetting the suicide of two women in 2002.

June 2007 - A B.C. court sentenced Dr. Ramesh Kumar Sharma for aiding the suicide of Ruth Wolfe, a 93-year-old woman suffering from heart problems, by prescribing her a deadly dose of drugs. He received a conditional sentence of two years less a day and his licence was revoked.

Feb. 19, 2008 - Luxembourg legalizes euthanasia.

June 15, 2012 - B.C. Supreme Court finds that Criminal Code provisions preventing physician-assisted death contravene charter equality rights in case brought by Gloria Taylor.

Oct. 10, 2013 - Appeal Court overturns decision.

Oct. 25, 2013 - B.C. Civil Liberties files leave to appeal to Supreme Court of Canada.

February 2014 - Belgium becomes first country to legalize euthanasia for terminally ill children, with the consent of their parents.

June 5, 2014 - Quebec becomes first province to legalize doctor-assisted death.

Oct. 15, 2014 - SCOC hearings to begin.


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