Quebec in new round of debates on medically-assisted death
Published Friday, March 24, 2017 2:27PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 24, 2017 7:00PM EDT
Quebec is about to begin a new round of debates on medically-assisted death.
The debate was triggered by what's been called the mercy killing of a 60-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease.
The woman was allegedly killed by her husband who said he didn't want to see her suffer anymore. She had requested medical aid in dying, but her family said she was refused.
Health Minister Gaetan Barrette is looking at the possibility of modifying the controversial law.
"Where do people really want to draw the line? I don't have the answer to that," said Barrette.
He announced three measures on Friday to provide a framework for the discussion about the possibility of making changes to the law.
There are calls for the law to be broadened to include "advanced consent," meaning someone with a degenerative disease could make the request while they still have the mental capacity to do so – before they're at the stage where they're close to death.
Barrette said a commission on end-of-life care will be given a mandate to analyze cases that have been refused.
A group of experts will study the issue of advanced consent.
Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée will also be asked to seek clarification from the courts on legal grey zones, the main question being how to define "a reasonably foreseeable death."
Veronique Hivon, the Parti Quebecois MNA who shepherded the bill through the National Assembly, approves of the analysis.
"I'm very happy that the government is sending a signal that the debate has to be done," said Hivon.
Barrette said this is a complex issue and the government needs to take a cautious approach.
"We will not take any steps before there is an extensive reflection on that and that reflection on that issue has to occur on a judiciary state that is clear," he said.
He added that legislative changes, if any, would only be proposed in 2018.