On March 1, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Sheilah Martin granted permission to an unidentified Calgary woman with Lou Gehrig’s Disease to have a doctor in British Columbia assist in her death “if she so chooses.” Martin held the hearing in closed court, considered statements from two doctors to be sufficient evidence, and did not require an assessment of the patient’s mental competence. Assisted by Ellen Wiebe, who conducted Canada’s clinical trials for RU-486 in 2001, during which a patient died, the woman, identified as H.S. in court documents, became the first person outside of Quebec to be the victim of a physician-assisted suicide. The Supreme Court has permitted court-ordered exemptions to the Criminal Code’s prohibition on assisting suicide while Parliament has until June 6 to pass a law on the matter … The Edmonton Journal reports that “nearly 80 doctors have told Alberta Health Services they’re willing” to commit physician-assisted suicides. Carl Nohr, president of the Alberta Medical Association, told the paper, “regardless of our personal views … this is now the reality in Canada.” James Silvius, medical director of community, seniors, addiction, and mental health for the AHS, said getting a referral for physician-assisted suicide should be as easy as calling a hotline … Provincial voters will go to the polls April 4 in Saskatchewan and April 19 in Manitoba. Campaign Life Coalition will have candidate information available on their website … Mark Jeworski, a candidate for the Saskatchewan NDP in Weyburn-Big Muddy, resigned after it was revealed he said in a Facebook posting last August that “Brad Wall’s mother should have taken the abortion pill.” Wall is the premier of the province … Liberal MP Mauril Belanger (Ottawa–Vanier) has introduced C-210, a private member’s bill that would amend the national anthem to make it gender neutral by substituting “thy sons” to “of us.” A previous attempt by Belanger in 2014 to amend “O Canada” was defeated 144-127 but was opposed by the Conservative majority … Conservative MP Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls) tabled a private member’s bill, C-233, An Act respecting a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, which would bind the government to develop and implement a strategy for the health care system to deal with people afflicted with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia … Conservative MP Ted Falk (Provencher) has introduced a private member’s bill, C-239, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (charitable gifts) with an eye to increasing the deduction individual income earners are entitled to each year, bringing donations to charities in line with political donations. Currently, Canadians can get a tax credit of 15 per cent for the first $200 donated to a charity and 29 per cent for any amount above that, up to three-quarters of an individual’s tax bill. Conversely, for donations up to $400 to a federal political candidate, party, or constituency association, a person will get a 75 per cent credit. For the amount of a contribution between $400 and $750, it is 50 per cent, and the amount of a donation over $750 up to 33 per cent. Falk, the Ottawa Citizen’s Kady O’Malley reports, has “an uphill battle” because private member’s business “can’t impose a cost on the treasury without a Royal Recommendation, which requires the support of a minister.”

United States

On International Women’s Day on March 8, Republican Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, issued a statement noting he stood on the steps of the Supreme Court the week earlier in support of a Texas pro-life law being heard by the court, at which he said: “we are here to stand up for women and children and for the rule of law. We are the pro-life generation, and we are here to stand for life.” Ryan also said his favourite charities to which he donates are crisis pregnancy centers because “they’re on the front lines of making sure that women in very difficult moments are given options, are given choices, are given compassion” … The Patients Rights Action Fund has noted the defeat of seven assisted-suicide bills in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Hawaii, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Utah.


Organizers of the Lima, Peru, March for Life said more than 750,000 people took part, including three presidential or vice presidential candidates: Hernando Guerra, Lourdes Flores, and Antero Flores-Araoz … A new draft Belgian law, 1677/001, would require doctors to speedily approve euthanasia requests within seven days. The law’s sponsor, Socialist MP Laurette Onkelinx, says that doctors who have conscience objections to euthanasia opponents are getting in the way of timely killing and, although the proposed law may permit a doctor to refuse euthanasia, medical professionals dealing with cases near the one-week limit may be forced to carry out the procedure … JAMA Psychiatry published a study on 66 psychiatric euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands from 2011 to 2014. Researchers found that 80 per cent of such patients killed by euthanasia were hospitalized for psychiatric reasons and 52 per cent of them had previously attempted to commit suicide.