Two Quebecers are challenging the law on medical aid to die

Deux Québécois contestent la loi sur l’aide médicale à mourir

Two Quebecers suffering from a degenerative and incurable were in superior Court Monday to challenge the criteria of the legislation on medical aid to die, which prevents them from having access to them.

“I am worn out to the rope,” said Monday, noon, at the courthouse of Montreal, Nicole Gladu, aged 73 years, one of the two people who carry this challenge on their shoulders.

The other is Jean Truchon, who was absent Monday morning because he had to follow treatments, as well as all the days. However, it was present in the afternoon and was to testify Tuesday morning.

Neither the one nor the other do not meet the criteria of the law to get medical help to die, even if they are very ill and suffering from serious degenerative diseases for which there is no possibility of healing.

Nicole Gladu is suffering from a syndrome post-polio, and John Truchon of cerebral palsy : three of its four members were not functional at birth, and he has just lost the use of the last.

The Law in quebec regarding the care of end-of-life reserve for medical help to die only to people with “end-of-life,” while the federal criminal Code speaks of “a natural death reasonably foreseeable”.

According to the lawyer of Mrs. Gladu and Mr. Truchon, these requirements should be declared invalid because they are vague and ambiguous and creates too much uncertainty. This forces people to consider other methods to put an end to their lives, such as suicide and the hunger strike, “a cruel death”, has launched their lawyer, Jean-Pierre Ménard.

It will argue that these criteria are contrary to article 7 of the canadian Charter of rights and freedoms, which protects their right to life and security, and also contrary to article 15 which provides for their right to equal treatment.

In addition, these criteria do not comply with the judgment in Carter the supreme Court of Canada rendered in 2015, which determined that it was unconstitutional to have a total prohibition of medical assistance to die, and who do not mention such a requirement, the “end of life” or “natural death reasonably foreseeable”.

If both applicants have gain of cause, the scope of the law would be extended, and more people could then qualify for medical help to die.

“They fought all their lives to be treated as the other,” said mr. Ménard in front of the judge Christine Baudouin.

“These people are in the twilight of their lives. And they must continue to fight for an end to their suffering.

“We must respect the choice of the individual,” he summarized.

Application for admission

In addition to the invalidation of those portions of the two acts, Mrs. Gladu and Mr. Truchon asked the court to declare that they are eligible for the medical assistance to die.

The Attorney general of Canada – as well as the Attorney general of Quebec – are there to defend their respective laws.

According to the Attorney general of Quebec, the criterion of “end of life” is not unduly restrictive : it is flexible and a matter for the medical assessment.

The Attorney general of Canada, he argues that to restrict the medical assistance to die for people whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable is the best balance between the rights of all.

Because of the offer to the other would involve excessive risks for the protection of vulnerable persons and the prevention of suicide. It sends messages to the vulnerable people that life is not worth to be lived, will it be argued over the next few weeks.

The argument is far from convincing Mrs. Gladu. If we do not let this option of medical assistance to die to those who are not end-of-life, we can push them to the suicide, she told reporters.

This challenge to the laws has to last for 33 days at the palais de justice of Montreal, and several experts will testify.

Ms. Gladu testified Monday, explaining to the judge the polio that had plunged into a coma for four months, when she was only four years old. Then, she shared how she has recovered and his brilliant career, first as a reporter and then to the united Nations and the government, interrupted by all the effects of the syndrome post-polio.

Wait until the last minute is not a good thing, she explained : we may not be able to request help to die. And in the meantime, we must live suffering “, in addition to those that one already has, and that it has not chosen”.

The woman said to feel trapped in his body.

“Freedom to me means to be able to choose. But I don’t have much choice in the matter : I refuse medical assistance to die. Or I pass it, or I suicide or I wait.

“It is not a choice.”

It will not be able to attend all days at the trial, by reason of his state of health. A video-conferencing system has been installed in it so that it can follow the hearings from a distance.

Ms. Gladu has not been cross-examined by the two attorneys general.

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