Quebec plans to draft its own right-to-die law – Provinces have legal power, report says

Quebec plans to draft its own right-to-die law – Provinces have legal power, report says

The Quebec government says it believes it has found a way of not running  afoul of the federal government after a legal panel recommended that a  terminally ill patient has the right to die.

Provincial junior health minister Veronique Hivon said Tuesday the panel  determined that provinces have the legal jurisdiction to legislate in matters of  health and that the future Quebec legislation would clarify how acts to end a  life wouldn’t be considered suicide.

The report states “the Quebec legislature has the constitutional power to  organize the required legal framework for end-of-life care within the  health-care system.”

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in Canada under the Criminal  Code. Julie Di Mambro, a spokeswoman for federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson,  said Tuesday the government’s position remains the same.

“This is a painful and divisive issue that has been thoroughly debated in  Parliament,” she said. “We respect Parliament’s decision.”

Hivon said the Quebec government can now pass a law with strict guidelines  that will respect the wishes of the dying to shorten their suffering and provide  doctors with a clear legal framework.

Under the recommendations, patients would have to make the request in writing  to a doctor on the basis of unbearable physical or psychological suffering. Two  physicians would have to approve the request.

Doctors would not face criminal charges in these circumstances, the report  said. Any law should state that the refusal, interruption, abstention from care  or the application of a terminal sedative in those circumstances could not be  considered a suicide.

The Quebec panel, which was headed by lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard, said people  suffering from an incurable or degenerative illness should be allowed to ask for  medical assistance to help them die.

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