Assisted suicide voted down by MPs

The House of Commons has rejected a Bloc Québécois MP's legislation to permit assisted suicide in Canada under strict conditions.

The House of Commons has rejected a Bloc Québécois MP’s legislation to permit assisted suicide in Canada under strict conditions.

Bill C-384 was defeated Wednesday afternoon on second reading by a 228-59 margin.

The bill would have allowed doctors to avoid murder and manslaughter charges for helping terminally ill people or those in severe chronic pain to die.

Francine Lalonde, an east Montreal member of Parliament, introduced the measure. It was supported by most of her caucus and a sprinkling of MPs from the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP, because party leaders allowed a free vote.

The bill stipulated that a physician could help someone to "die with dignity" provided nine conditions were met, including that the person was 18 or older, suffered from a terminal illness or unrelenting physical or mental pain, had made two written requests to die at least 10 days apart, and had their diagnosis confirmed by a second doctor.

Lalonde — who has faced death during recent struggles with cancer — said it's time to allow terminally ill people in intolerable pain to die gently in a manner of their own choosing.

But MPs were concerned it would take the country down a "slippery slope" in which severely disabled or dying people could be euthanized without their consent.

Junior cabinet minister Steven Fletcher, who has quadriplegia, abstained even though he supports the principle of allowing individuals to choose to die with dignity

He said Lalonde's bill was "flawed," arguing it could relieve the pressure on society to provide the level of social and health support required to make severely injured or ill patients want to live.

With files from The Canadian Press