"Suicide tourism" not an option for Americans under Canada's new law

Canada's new assisted suicide law will only apply to Canadians and permanent residents, meaning Americans won't be able to travel to Canada to die.

A senior government official told The Associated Press that visitors will be excluded under the new law to be announced Thursday, precluding the prospect of suicide tourism. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because that individual is not authorized to discuss details ahead of the announcement.

The official said to take advantage of the law, the person would have to be eligible for health services in Canada.

In the United States, assisted suicide for mentally competent, terminally ill patients is legal in Washington, Vermont, Montana, and Oregon. California recently became the fifth state to legalize "aid in dying." The law will take effect later this year.

Arguing for the legal right to die

The American Medical Association's code of medical ethics says "allowing physicians to participate in assisted suicide would cause more harm than good."

But terminally ill patients and their families have fought to change laws. Brittany Maynard, a young newlywed who suffered from brain cancer, made national news in 2014 when she moved from California to Oregon so she could legally receive a prescription for a lethal combination of pills.

Maynard, who was 29 when she died, said it's a person's right. "I refuse to subject myself and my family to purposeless, prolonged pain and suffering at the hands of an incurable disease," she had said.

The Canadian law also excludes the mentally ill and does not permit advance requests to end one's life in the future.