On July 17, two groups, Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in Montreal challenging the validity of Bill 52, An Act Respecting End-of-Life Care. The Act, proposed by the Parti Quebecois government of Pauline Marois in 2013 and passed by the Liberal government of Philippe Couillard in June, provides for “medical aid in dying,” which they contend is a euphemism for euthanasia.
Living with Dignity, which represents 17,000 Quebec citizens, and the Alliance, which represents more than 650 doctors, want all provisions of the Act declared invalid because they say they are unconstitutional.
In a press release, the two groups said, “this Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.” They say that euthanasia is homicide and prohibited by the Criminal Code, a matter of federal jurisdiction. As their release states, “it is a subject-matter which is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.”
They also argue that the provision “unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.” Furthermore, they “infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.”
Living with Dignity and the Alliance have requested an accelerated management of the case before the Act takes effect in December 2015. They say it is necessary to “protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec.”