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A chronology of major events in Canada's debate about the right to die

02/06/2015 11:57 EST | Updated 04/08/2015 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - A chronology of the major events in Canada's right-to-die debate:

1983 — The Law Reform Commission of Canada recommends against legalizing or decriminalizing voluntary, active euthanasia. It also recommends that aiding suicide not be decriminalized.

March 1991 — The first private member's bills on euthanasia are introduced in Parliament. They are not passed.

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 is charged with first-degree murder in death of a terminally ill patient. He pleads guilty to a lesser charge of administering a noxious substance, receives a suspended sentence and loses his nursing licence.

1992 — Sue Rodriguez, a Victoria woman with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), files suit in B.C. Supreme Court challenging the laws against assisted suicide. The 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 — Rodriguez dies in her Victoria home with the help of an anonymous doctor.

November 1994 — Robert Latimer is convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his severely disabled 12-year-old daughter and sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 10 years.

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

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

December 1997 — Latimer, who had won a new trial but was convicted again of second-degree murder, is sentenced to two years less a day, notwithstanding the minimum sentence of life without parole for 10 years.

May 1998 — Dr. Maurice Genereux is 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.

November 1998 — The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal confirms the Latimer conviction and imposes a sentence of life with no eligibility for parole for 10 years. Ruling upheld by the Supreme Court in January 2001.

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

September 2002 — Belgium allows euthanasia.

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

Nov. 5, 2004 — A B.C. court acquits 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 sentences 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 receives a conditional sentence of two years less a day and his licence is revoked.

June 2007 — An Ipsos Reid survey finds that 76 per cent of respondents support the right to die for patients with an incurable disease. The strongest support is in Quebec with 87 per cent while Alberta has the lowest, with 66 per cent.

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. 4, 2012 — Taylor dies of an infection.

Oct. 10, 2013 — B.C. appeal court overturns the Taylor decision.

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

Jan. 16, 2014 — Supreme Court of Canada agrees to hear the appeal.

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 — Supreme Court hears Taylor case appeal.

Feb. 6, 2015 — Supreme Court unanimously strikes down ban on providing a doctor-assisted death to mentally competent but suffering and "irremediable" patients, saying it infringes on all three of the life, liberty and security of person provisions in Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Parliament is given 12 months to draft new legislation.

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