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Quebec Law in 2014 Requires All Hospitals, Nursing Homes to Offer Euthanasia

Late last week, a radical new euthanasia bill passed into law by a free vote in the National Assembly in Quebec…



Quebec, Canada’s largest and arguably most politically liberal province, has become the only jurisdiction in North America to ever legalize euthanasia.

Earlier this year, Bill 52, An Act Respecting End-of-Life Care, technically died when the Quebec National Assembly failed to vote on it in February before the Assembly recessed and a new election was scheduled. But after the National Assembly reconvened with a new government installed, the bill was resurrected and passed easily on June 5 by a vote of 94 to 22. It is due to take effect 18 months after passage.

The new law permits both direct euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide without ever using those terms.

Instead, the terms are replaced by the euphemism “medical aid-in-dying” in an attempt by drafters to redefine those death-inducing actions as medical treatment, thereby circumventing Canada’s Criminal Code that clearly makes both euthanasia and assisted suicide punishable crimes. It was a clever ploy because, in Canada, the federal government has jurisdiction over criminal matters, but the provinces have jurisdiction over health care.

While it is likely that the federal government will challenge Quebec’s law in court, no action has been taken as of this writing. A Justice Ministry spokeswoman did state, “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.…” [Globe & Mail, 6/5/14]

Meanwhile, a recent court challenge has been filed in Quebec Superior Court arguing that the law violates the Criminal Code and both Quebec’s and Canada’s Charter of Rights & Freedoms. [Digital Journal, 7/17/14]
[Summer 2014, Vol.28, No.4, Patients Rights Council Update, ]