Injunction still possible against Dying with Dignity law
Published Thursday, November 26, 2015 12:37PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 1, 2015 2:13PM EST
With two weeks to go until Quebec's Dying with Dignity law comes into effect, Quebec's Health Minister doesn't think much of a legal challenge to stop the law.
Gaetan Barrette openly scoffed at a coalition that is seeking an injunction to prevent doctor-assisted suicide from occuring in Quebec.
"You have a group that has absolutely no relation whatsoever with that issue that is going to court to ask for an injunction," said Barrette. "That's quite surprising and symptomatic of what it is behind that."
The Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice, along with Lisa D'Amico, a woman with cerebral palsy, filed for an injunction earlier this month and a judge has yet to rule on the matter.
They argue that the law should not come into effect because of a February decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, Carter v. Canada, that overturned federal laws banning assisted suicide.
"It's quite frightening when you're disabled, bedridden and poor and you don't have a voice, you don't have the financial means to hire a lawyer to fight for you to be your voice so it's frightening to know you will be in such jeopardy," said D'Amico.
She has always preferred the government devote more resources to pain management and improving the well-being of people who need medical care.
"I believe that there are many more treatment available out there to alleviate the pain but it's not provided by the provincial government, like physiotherapy for instance," she said.
The court suspended its ruling for 12 months, giving the federal government time to amend laws to legalize the practice.
Lawyers for the groups opposed to assisted suicide argue that ruling means Quebec cannot approve assisted suicide until February 2016.
Barrette does not believe that is the case.
"Now, that being said, we are in a situation where there is a legal prodecure that we have to let go to its end and we have to reconvene in that conversation after the decision has been made," said Barrette.
Quebec's Justice Minister Stephane Vallee confirmed she was recently called by her federal counterpart, but would not confirm a report in Le Devoir that the federal minister was advising Quebec to hold off on the implementation of this province's assisted suicide law.
"That injunction has been presented, was pleaded last Monday," said Vallee.
"We are waiting for the decision. and once the decsison is rendered we will look at the decision and act accordingly and see what needs to be done. Right now our intention is to go ahead with the bill."
Proponents say Quebec's right to die law has been discussed at length, finally being passed on June 5, 2014, following four years of public hearings and legislative debate.
The legislation sets out rules for how someone with a terminal illness can ask for assistance in suicide -- and can revoke their decision at any time. It also enshrines the right to palliative care.
Opponents fear it will encourage doctors to not give someone near the end of their life the best possible care, and will instead lead doctors to encourage patients to end their lives.