All Quebec Parties Agree to Re-Table Assisted Suicide Bill and Motion Raising Question of Public Interest
On May 22, 2014, with the approval of all four of Quebec’s major political parties, the newly elected Liberal government re-introduced Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care at the same stage as before the election. Bill 52 aims to ensure that end-of-life patients are provided with care “that is respectful of their dignity and their autonomy,” and establishes specific requirements for certain types of medical assistance to die.
The previous committee report was tabled with three amendments to the Bill. The report and amendments were adopted on the day the Bill was re-tabled. One of the amendments considers how a person that cannot write may provide written consent. The amendment provides such persons with a method to request and give consent to medical assistance to die. The other two amendments ensure both the English and French text of the Bill say the same thing.
Third reading debate on the amended Bill 52 started May 26. There will be about eight more hours of debate on the Bill to allow newly elected members of the assembly to provide their opinions.
Bill 52 is expected to pass before the government introduces a budget on June 4. A court challenge from the federal government and other parties on its validity should soon follow. The federal government will likely argue that Bill 52 decriminalizes euthanasia, which is in opposition to the Criminal Code and under their jurisdiction. For background and more on the challenges to the Bill, I recommend reviewing the Slaw debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide linked above.
But it happened quicker than I thought.
On Tuesday May 27, 2014, it was reported in the media that a motion raising a question of public interest was filed in Quebec Superior Court by a medical doctor Paul Saba, and a woman with cerebral palsy Lisa D’Amico, claiming that Bill 52 is illegal and violates both the Quebec and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Quebec’s Civil Code, the Quebec Code of medical practice, medical ethics, the Criminal Code and the Constitution. In addition, in the motion they claim that euthanasia can’t be considered a medical treatment and therefore does not fall within provincial jurisdiction.
D’Amico is afraid that when she is no longer able to live independently she will not be given proper care but pushed into euthanasia.
I don’t agree with Saba and D’Amico’s reasons for filing the motion but I guess some do. In my opinion, people usually try to avoid death. They want to live and continue to do, and experience many things. In general, people value life. Evidently, this is not the case when a person wishes to die. There is no reason why euthanasia/assisted suicide can’t be controlled by proper regulation that would rigorously prevent abuse against the vulnerable among others.
I know that this is a simplistic statement, but what do you think?