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Canada's doctor-assisted suicide law passes final hurdle

OTTAWA, Canada - Canada's Senate voted Friday to pass legislation allowing the terminally ill to end their life with a doctor's assistance, clearing the final hurdle for the bill to become law after a clash between the upper and lower houses.

Senators approved Bill C-14 in a vote of 44 to 28, giving in to pressure by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government, which controls the House of Commons.

It now only requires royal ascent by the governor general, which is largely a formality.

The bill sets out new rules for consenting adults with serious health problems to end their suffering, coming one year after the Supreme Court struck down a prohibition against doctor-assisted suicide.

The government had been given until June 6 to draft the legislation.

The protocols it put forward -- including the main sticking point of restricting assisted dying rights to terminally ill patients -- were much less comprehensive than proposals by a parliamentary special committee formed to study the hugely controversial issue and supported by the Senate.

Tensions rose in parliament, which at one point saw Trudeau elbow a female opposition MP in the chest and grab the opposition whip by the arm to drag him toward his seat for a key vote.

Then while the Senate sought to amend the bill to make doctor-assisted suicide more widely available, the deadline passed.

In a statement, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott said "the government recognizes the extraordinary efforts that were made in the House of Commons and in the Senate to ensure passage of this bill."

"Medical assistance in dying is a difficult, complex and deeply personal issue," they said.

"The legislation strikes the right balance between personal autonomy for those seeking access to medically assisted dying and protecting the vulnerable." — Agence France-Presse