B.C. group calls for legalization of assisted suicide
The passing of Washington's assisted-suicide initiative has renewed calls by a B.C. group to enact similar legislation.
Retired B.C. physician Brian Finnemore, who practised medicine for 40 years and is a member of the Right to Die Society of Canada, supports a similar bill on this side of the border.
"I've seen many people suffer through a very uncomfortable death which could have been prevented," Finnemore told CBC News.
Washington voters on Tuesday gave solid approval to Initiative 1000, which is modelled after Oregon's Death with Dignity law.
Under the initiative, terminally-ill people can be prescribed lethal medication which they can administer themselves if it is proven they are of sound mind and have six months or less to live.
Opponents call assisted suicide groundless
But some vow to fight any plan that would legalize assisted suicide in B.C.
Margaret Cottle, a palliative care physician and UBC instructor, argues that any case supporting one's right to die is scientifically groundless.
"There's not one shred of evidence to show that you are better off dead. Many people believe things about what happens after death. We do not know, scientifically, whether when you die you don't go into screaming agony someplace."
Oregon’s Death with Dignity law took effect in 1997. Since then, more than 340 people — mostly those dying of cancer — have used it to end their lives.
The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the case for assisted suicide when it ruled in 1994 that Victoria resident Sue Rodriguez, who had Lou Gherig's disease, could not end her life.
Any change to that ruling would now have to come from government.