Top Quebec court to hear arguments on assisted-dying law

Top Quebec court to hear arguments on assisted-dying law

MONTREAL — The debate over Quebec’s law on assisted dying will be back in court today.

The province’s top tribunal is set to hear arguments from Quebec government lawyers who are seeking leave to appeal an injunction handed down by a lower court last week.

If upheld, the injunction could postpone implementation of the law until at least February.

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

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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