Members of Parliament will vote on the federal government's physician-assisted dying legislation when Parliament resumes in the last week of May.
And while many MPs are struggling with how to vote, people who will ultimately be affected by whatever law is passed, are anxiously watching the bill's passage through parliament.
Retired nurse Noreen Campbell is one of those people.
She was diagnosed with a cancer in her mouth three years ago. But after surgery for that disease, doctors discovered she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She now needs a tracheotomy to breathe.
"I have to work every day I get up to breathe," the former nurse told CBC.
Her greatest fear she says is suffocating.
"My choice is; do I want to go through the struggle of not breathing, suffocating, over and over, or do I want to say that's enough," she said.
Reasonably foreseeable death
Campbell is worried she won't get to make that choice if the federal government's proposed legislation, C-14, passes because it contains a condition that a patient's death must be reasonably foreseeable in order to qualify for a doctor assisted death.
"I could die next week. But I could also die in 3 years," Campbell said.
Campbell isn't the only patient anxious about how the legislation could affect them.
Doctor Jeff Blackmer deals with medical ethics for the Canadian Medical Association. He's heard from patients and doctors who have been taking a lot of calls since the bill was tabled last month.
"I have heard these questions, for example, from patients with multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease and I think it's the same thing. Patients with early mild forms of those illnesses probably wouldn't qualify, while more advanced cases probably would," Blackmer said.
It's not just patients
Blackmer says doctors are anxious too, and he believes including a condition such as a reasonably foreseeable death, actually helps.
"The more definition, the more clarity we can provide, the more physicians will feel comfortable and the more physicians are likely to participate," he said.
Blackmer says the Canadian Medical Association is preparing an online module for mid-June, shortly after the Supreme Court of Canada's deadline of June 6th for the federal government to have passed C-14, to help doctors understand the law.
The CMA has also organized two courses this fall on how doctors can deal with all sorts of end of life issues and there is already a waiting list.
Meeting the Carter challenge
The bill may not be law yet, but it's already facing criticism from the courts.
The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled May 17, the government is flouting last year's landmark ruling by the Supreme Court when it argues that assisted dying should apply only to those who are close to death.
The court also said the federal government was not complying with the Supreme Court's ruling, by excluding people suffering solely from psychiatric conditions.
The ruling prompted the Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to defend her legislation, once again.
"We are legislating for 36 million people in this country and we believe that the regime we put forward is the right balance, having regard for personal autonomy, having regard to ensuring, as much as we can, the protection of the vulnerable. That this is the best first step. This is not the end of the conversation," the minister said after the weekly Liberal caucus meeting yesterday.
If the bill passes the House of Commons it will then move over to the Senate.
A Senate committee tabled a report this month recommended that the legislation only apply to those with terminal illnesses.
'A controlled peaceful death'
Campbell says she joined the advocacy group Dying with Dignity, and is now choosing to speak out, to deal with views like this.
She has this message for senators who want to limit the bill even further.
"Does one of those senators have to get up in the morning, and say thank god I breathe room air? I don't think so. Do any of them have to take over an hour to get ready to go to work, just hoping their medications for their care regime will enable them to walk out the door? I don't think so," she asked.
Campbell says she's prepared to go to Switzerland, where she knows she will qualify for a medically-assisted death, if she has to in the end.
She says her decision is not just about what's best for her.
"I would rather give my family a controlled peaceful death than a tormented one."
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A look at some jurisdictions where right-to-die laws are in place. (Information courtesy of The Canadian Press)
A right-to-die bill was adopted last year, the first legislation of its kind in Canada. The law, scheduled to go into effect in December, stipulates that patients would have to repeatedly ask a doctor to end their lives on the basis of unbearable physical or psychological suffering. They would have to be deemed mentally sound at the time of the requests. The law, however, is being challenged in court by two Quebec-based groups on the grounds that it undercuts sections of the Criminal Code that outlaw assisted suicide and euthanasia. The federal government has expressed its opposition to the legislation but is named as a defendant in the court challenge because it is responsible for the Criminal Code.
The results of a referendum made Oregon the first U.S. state to make it legal for a doctor to prescribe a life-ending drug to a terminally ill patient of sound mind who makes the request. However, doctors cannot administer the life-ending drugs and the patient must swallow them without help. Patients must state three times -- once in writing -- that they wish to die, and those statements must be made at least 15 days apart. They must also obtain a concurring opinion from a second doctor that they have less than six months to live and are of sound mind. The law took effect in late 1997, and through June, 2014, just over 800 people had used the law.
The state became the first in the U.S. to allow a person's right to die through legislation rather than through a court decision or a referendum result. Vermont's law, which took effect in May 2013, is closely modelled on the system in Oregon and uses the same safeguards. Patients must state three times, including once in writing -- that they wish to die. They must also obtain a concurring opinion from a second doctor that they have less than six months to live and are of sound mind.
In January 2014, a judge ruled that competent, terminally ill patients have the right to seek their doctors' help in getting prescription medication if they want to end their lives on their own terms. The state's attorney general is appealing the ruling, and a decision on whether it will be upheld is expected later this year.
A referendum saw the state enact right to die legislation in 2008. As in Oregon, patients with less than six months to live must administer the doctor-prescribed lethal medication on their own. According to a government report, 549 people applied for the right to die between 2009 and 2013. Of those, 525 actually took their own lives.
In 2009, the state's Supreme Court ruled that Montana's public policy supports mentally competent, terminally ill patients being able to choose aid in dying. Physicians are allowed to prescribe medication that patients must administer themselves. More detailed legislative bills have been introduced in the state but have not passed. The court ruling still stands today, but data about its usage is not available.
A law passed in 1942 forbade anyone from helping someone kill themselves for selfish reasons. As a result, people arguing that they are assisting with a suicide for unselfish motives are not considered to be committing a crime. Suicides can be assisted by people other than doctors and no medical condition needs to be established. Switzerland is the only country that allows foreigners to travel there for the purpose of ending their own lives.
In the Netherlands, euthanasia is legal under specific circumstances and for children over the age of 12 with parental consent. In Europe, patients don't have to prove that they have a terminal illness -- establishing unbearable suffering is usually sufficient. Dutch doctors are allowed to perform euthanasia if a patient whose unbearable suffering has no hope of improvement asks to die with a full understanding of the situation. A second doctor must agree with the decision to help the patient die.