Assisted-dying law: Quebec court gives government the OK to appeal injunction

Assisted-dying law: Quebec court gives government the OK to appeal injunction

MONTREAL — Quebec’s top tribunal has given the provincial government permission to appeal a lower-court decision that granted an injunction aimed at blocking adoption of a provincial law on assisted dying.

The legislation, which outlines how terminally ill patients can end their lives with medical help, was adopted by members of the legislature in June 2014 and was supposed to become law this Thursday.

It is not clear whether this afternoon’s ruling by the Quebec Court of Appeal means the legislation automatically becomes law as of Thursday.

The appeal will be heard Dec. 18.

Quebec government lawyers argued a Superior Court justice erred in issuing a declaratory judgment without hearing full arguments on the matter. That judgment concluded that certain provisions in Quebec’s law run afoul of the Criminal Code, which prohibits assisted suicide.

Health Minister Gaetan Barrette and Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee both argue the law is perfectly valid.

The injunction sought by the Quebec-based Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice and Lisa D’Amico, a handicapped woman, was related to a Supreme Court ruling last February that struck down the prohibition on physician-assisted dying.

The high court’s decision gave the federal government 12 months to craft a new law to recognize the right of clearly consenting adults with enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to seek medical help to end their lives.

D’Amico and the doctors argued the ruling was based on a case in British Columbia that occurred before the Quebec law was adopted in June 2014.

They also said a patient’s consent cannot be free and informed if he or she has not been offered all palliative care options, which is not always the case in Quebec due to a lack of accessibility to certain treatments, drugs and services.

The Canadian Press

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