Montrealers file legal action contesting restrictions on medical aid in dying
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, June 14, 2017 10:51AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 14, 2017 2:12PM EDT
MONTREAL -- Two incurably ill Montrealers announced Wednesday they're taking legal action to challenge the constitutionality of the Canadian and Quebec laws on medical aid in dying.
Jean Truchon and Nicole Gladu filed an action in Quebec Superior Court on Tuesday, arguing the eligibility requirements for physician-assisted death are too restrictive and violate their rights to the procedure.
At a news conference alongside their lawyer, Jean-Pierre Menard, they explained they suffer from degenerative diseases but are not eligible for medical aid in dying because their deaths are not reasonably foreseeable and they are not at the end of their lives.
They are asking the court to allow doctors to provide them with medical aid in dying and to invalidate the articles of the laws setting the criteria.
Truchon, who was born with cerebral palsy, said he managed to live a fulfilling and independent life until 2012, when he lost the use of his one remaining limb, his left arm.
In a statement read by an assistant, the 49-year-old said he would like to end his suffering and can't face the prospect of life confined to an institution.
"Today, I challenge the laws of medical aid to die for myself above all, and for all those who would, like me, want to end their days and who are unfortunately caught in their bodies and are dependent on others for their entire lives," his statement read.
Gladu, 71, said she survived a childhood bout with polio and went on to become an accomplished journalist and trade unionist.
But for the last 30 years, post-polio syndrome has led to an ever-growing list of health problems and a deteriorating quality of life.
"Each breath has become for me a conscious effort which consumes three-quarters of my waning energy," she said.
She said that while cancer patients are allowed to refuse treatment, those who suffer from degenerative diseases have no options, because there is no treatment.
"What I am asking is respect for all those like me, who have been watching death in the face for a long time in a progressive, rather than spectacular fashion," she added.
Menard said Ottawa's decision to limit medical aid in dying to patients whose death is "reasonably foreseeable" goes against the landmark Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for the legislation.
"The federal government has decided against a large part of legal advice to go against the Supreme Court ruling and against the Charter rights the Supreme Court has recognized to citizens," he said.
He said his clients are asking the courts to strike down the portions of the law that set the criteria.
"Simply, allow my clients and all the people in this condition to recover a right they have been deprived of unfairly and unlawfully by the federal government," Menard said.
He said Gladu and Truchon meet all the other criteria for assisted death and should be allowed to end their suffering.