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More Than 2,000 Medically Assisted Deaths in Canada Since Legalization

Correspondents: Aisha Gomez and Roosa Tikkanen, the Commonwealth Fund

Since medically assisted death was legalized in June 2016, more than 2,000 Canadians have chosen to end their lives with the help of a doctor, according to a new report released by Health Canada. In a one-year period, the number of assisted deaths has accelerated, with 1,179 deaths recorded during the first six months of 2017 compared with 803 deaths during the first six months after legalization. The report finds that trends in medically assisted deaths were comparable to other parts of the world where the practice is legal, including Oregon, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Only 1 percent of all deaths in Canada were medically assisted, and the majority of cases, 63 percent, represented cancer patients. Patients had an average age of 73 at the time of death, and increasingly chose to end their lives at home instead of in hospital settings.

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