June
06
 

Quebec legalises euthanasia

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard in the National Assembly this week.    

Quebec has become the first Canadian province to legalise euthanasia. Bill 52 easily passed in the National Assembly by a vote of 94 to 22. “I want to congratulate ourselves as parliamentarians,” said Carole Poirier, of the Parti Quebecois. “Quebec is a beautiful society, and again today Quebec has just shown that we are really, really a different society.”

Under the new law, an adult who is terminally ill, of sound mind, and in constant and unbearable physical and psychological pain may request a lethal injection. Quebec now joins the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg as the fourth jurisdiction in which euthanasia is legal. Assisted suicide is legal in across the border in Washington state and Oregon, but not euthanasia. 

The battle over the controversial law is not over, however. Under the Canadian constitution, the criminal code is a Federal responsibility -- and it bans euthanasia. Therefore Quebec’s legislation uses the euphemism “medical aid in dying” instead and describes it as a health issue, not a criminal issue.

“It is for the courts to decide if any province is legislating within its jurisdiction,” a spokeswoman for federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay, said. “It is our government’s position that the Criminal Code provisions prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia are constitutionally valid, and in place to protect all persons, including those who are most vulnerable in our society.”

A group has already launched an appeal to Canada’s Supreme Court against the law. A family doctor, Paul J. Saba, and a handicapped woman, Lisa D'Amico, claim that euthanasia is not medical care, that the law is unconstitutional and that “Doctors would be in violation of their Code of Ethics as well as Federal criminal law.”



This article is published by and BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

comments powered by Disqus
 

 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed

 Best of the web

 Recent Posts
Italian nurse may have killed 38 nursing home patients
18 Oct 2014
Swedes succeed in first womb transplant
18 Oct 2014
Swedish feminists condemn surrogacy
18 Oct 2014
What do we do when biohazards are human?
18 Oct 2014
US officials try to hose down Ebola fears
18 Oct 2014