After Wrangling, Canada Parliament Adopts Law On Physician-Assisted Suicide

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Parliament on Friday adopted a law allowing medically-assisted death for the terminally ill, brushing aside critics who wanted the legislation to cover people with degenerative diseases.

After weeks of political wrangling, the upper Senate chamber voted in favor of a law which makes Canada one of the few nations where doctors can legally help sick people die.

Some Senators complained the scope of the law - initially passed by the House of Commons elected chamber - was too narrow and should not be restricted to those facing imminent death.

Justin Trudeau Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives a standing ovation while speaking during the Liberal caucus holiday party in Ottawa, Canada, December 9, 2015. Reuters/Chris Wattie

The law, drafted after Canada's Supreme Court last year overturned a ban on physician-assisted suicide, must receive formal approval from Governor General David Johnston, the acting head of state. That process is a formality.

The Supreme Court ruling covered willing adults facing intolerable physical or psychological suffering from a severe and incurable medical condition.

The Liberal government, though, narrowed the scope of the legislation to cover only those people whose death was reasonably foreseeable.

Critics said this would condemn people with degenerative conditions like multiple sclerosis to unbearable suffering.

Government officials say the new law is a first attempt to address a highly sensitive and controversial topic and could be broadened in years to come.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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