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Quebec court invalidates portions of medical aid in dying laws as too restrictive

Last Updated Sep 11, 2019 at 11:47 am MDT

Nicole Gladu, who is incurably ill, arrives at the courthouse in Montreal on Monday, January 7, 2019, for the beginning of a trial challenging the provincial and federal laws on medically assisted death on the grounds they are too restrictive. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

MONTREAL — Quebec Superior Court has invalidated parts of the federal and Quebec laws on medically assisted dying laws, declaring them too restrictive and therefore unconstitutional.

A judge today found the “reasonably foreseeable natural death” requirement of the Criminal Code, which prevents some people from accessing medical assistance in dying, invalid.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Christine Baudouin also invalidated a section of the Quebec law that says people must “be at the end of life.”

The case was brought by two Quebecers — Nicole Gladu and Jean Truchon — who did not meet the criteria and had their requests for assisted death turned down by doctors.

They launched a legal action against the federal and provincial governments, claiming their right to life, liberty and security, guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was infringed.

They both suffer from incurable degenerative diseases, and lawyers argued the condition that a person’s natural death be ”reasonably foreseeable” before they can receive medical assistance in dying was overly strict.

The pair argued a 2015 decision decriminalizing medical assistance in dying established suffering, not imminent death, as the most important consideration.

They asked the court to allow doctors to provide them with medical aid in dying and to invalidate the articles of the federal and provincial laws that blocked their requests.

Application of the judgment is suspended for six months to give legislators a chance to modify the legislation.

But the court granted an exemption to Truchon and Gladu allowing them to seek medical aid in dying during this period if they satisfy the other conditions.

The Canadian Press