As feds review Quebec euthanasia bill, citizen group pledges court challenge
BY PETER BAKLINSKI
Mon Jun 09, 2014 14:03 EST
QUEBEC, June 9, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On the same day Quebec became the first Canadian province to legalize euthanasia as “medical aid in dying” with the passage of Bill 52, a citizens network said it would fight the legislation in the courts. Meanwhile, the federal government has said they will review the bill.
“I will not say when we will go to court, but we are going to go to court,” Michael Racicot, spokesperson for Living with Dignity, told the Toronto Sun.
The group stated in a press release Thursday that elected representatives from all parties “failed in their duty to protect the most vulnerable and lifted a ban that has existed since the time of Hippocrates — more than 24 centuries ago — and which is the foundation of medicine and of life in society that is respectful of others.”
“Killing a patient, even at his or her request, is not a medical treatment; it is a homicide and, as such, prohibited by the Criminal Code,” the group stated.
The bill faced a court challenge even before passing at the National Assembly 94-22 last Thursday.
Two weeks ago, Dr. Paul J. Saba, a Quebec family physician, filed a challenge against the bill in Montreal’s Superior Court, calling it “illegal, illicit and unconstitutional.”
“Euthanasia is not a medical treatment,” said Saba in a YouTube video about the suit. “The Quebec government does not have the right to legislate euthanasia as a medical practice. Euthanasia is against all the laws of this province and this country.”
The federal government hinted on Friday that the Quebec bill, which is scheduled to come into effect in 18 months, may be a violation of the country’s Criminal Code provisions.
“It is our government’s position that the Criminal Code provisions prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia are in place to protect all persons, including those who are most vulnerable in our society,” said Justice Department Press Secretary Paloma Aguilar in a statement.
“Furthermore, in April 2010, a large majority of parliamentarians voted not to change these laws, which is an expression of democratic will on this topic.”
“As we do with all legislation, we will take the time to review it,” she said.
In 2012 the federal government appealed a B.C. court ruling in Carter v. Canada that sought to overturn the country’s ban on euthanasia and assisted suicide, saying at that time that the state has an “interest in protecting human life.” The case has wound its way to the Supreme Court where the 1993 “Rodriguez” decision upholding Canada’s law on assisted suicide is expected to be revisited.
Critics say Quebec’s law, if not challenged, will open up the floodgates to euthanasia and assisted suicide throughout the country.
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, expects the law to open the door to the same abuses currently happening in Belgium, where studies have shown people are being euthanized without requesting it and where the categories of those eligible for death continues to expand – most recently allowing the euthanasia of children.
Quebec doctors are already calling for a more extensive list of those who qualify for a lethal injection, including children.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is calling on the federal government to bring an injunction against the euthanasia bill and to ask the court to strike down the bill as unconstitutional. It has created a petition urging the government to act.