Update: Bill 52, Assisted Suicide Bill Passes Third Reading

The Quebec National Assembly has adopted a historic “right-to-die” legislation (94-22 margin/0 Abstention), the first in Canada. All 22 votes against Bill 52 were from Liberal members, including 10 cabinet ministers. The Bill gives terminally ill adult patients in the province of Quebec, who are of sound mind, the right to palliative care and medical assistance to die in exceptional circumstances with safeguards.

Once the Bill receives royal assent, the law will come into force within 18 months (in 2015.) This means, once the Commission to oversee end of care life has been established, and the application of the law, the proper forms and administrative requirements have been met.

As explained in my previous post, a court challenge has been filed to invalidate Bill 52 and many others are expected, especially from the federal government. However, Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said the province received advice from legal experts, including the Quebec Bar Association, indicating it could win a court challenge. Quebec says its Bill cannot be legally defined as euthanasia or assisted suicide because it extends health-care services, which are provincial jurisdiction.

A debate on the right to die in Canada has already made its way to the Supreme Court of Canada, in an appeal from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association in the case of Lee Carter, et al. v. Attorney General of Canada, et al. (B.C.C.A., Oct. 10, 2013) (35591), which was granted on January 16, 2014, seeking to overturn the legal ban on doctor-assisted dying, arguing criminal laws that deny seriously ill Canadians the right to choose an assisted death are unconstitutional, and the issue is of profound national importance.

In addition, the Canadian Medical Association, which opposes assisted suicide and euthanasia, has engaged in a nationwide consultation about end-of-life issues and a report is expected on June 10.

I am impatient to see the outcome of both the BCCLA appeal and any challenges to Bill 52.

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