By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Those who follow the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) newsletters and blog will know that in June 2014 the Québec government legalized euthanasia, not assisted suicide in a manner that is similar to the Belgian euthanasia law, by claiming that lethal injection is a form of medical treatment.
Many Canadians remain confused about the Québec euthanasia law. Graeme Hamilton, the National Post's Québec corespondent, explained in his December 11th article what Québec's "Medical-aid-in-dying" law (Bill 52) actually says. Hamilton wrote:
Is it euthanasia or assisted suicide that Quebec has legalized?
Under the Quebec law, physicians will administer lethal injections to consenting patients. Quebec calls this “medical aid in dying,” but it is more commonly known as euthanasia. Assisted suicide, which is currently legal in three American states, occurs when a physician provides a patient with lethal medication that the patient uses to end his or her own life. Quebec considered but rejected the legalization of assisted suicide, concluding that it was preferable to have the physician administer the medication.
How might a federal law differ from what Quebec has done?
Ottawa has been spurred to action by last February’s Supreme Court of Canada ruling, which invalidated the Criminal Code prohibition of physician-assisted death. The high court gave the federal government and provinces one year to come up with new legislation, but Ottawa has requested a six-month extension and it has not indicated whether it will opt for euthanasia or assisted suicide.
Clarification: The dangerous Supreme Court decision struck down Canada's assisted suicide law (Section 241b of the Criminal Code) and offered limited reasons as to when euthanasia could be legal.
On December 4, Canada's federal government requested a six-month extension to enable them to legislate on the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
EPC intervened in the Carter case at all levels and has submitted its legal analysis to the Supreme Court whereby EPC agrees with the six-month extension and we oppose the request by the Québec government that they be exempt from the six-month extension.