Medical aid to die: the judges take to the stage

Aide médicale à mourir: les magistrats entrent en scène

Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir
Achievement of a syndrome post-polio severe for the past 25 years, Nicole Gladu is fighting to eliminate federal and provincial legislation on assisted dying of the articles that prevents them from having access to this care end-of-life.

Two Quebecers suffering from serious incurable diseases have begun Monday at the palais de justice de Montréal, which promises to be a very long struggle for recognition of their right to be helped to end their suffering psychological and physical.

“Why should I subject myself to additional pain or suffering to all the other suffering that I have already had to undergo in order to be eligible for assistance to die ? “said Ms. Nicole Gladu, called to testify Monday afternoon in front of judge Christine Beaudoin of the superior Court of Quebec.

The plaintiff, 73 years old, burdened for more than 25 years by a syndrome post-polio severe, is corequérante, with Jean Truchon, reached triparalysie since the birth, in this action filed in June 2017 for the invalidation of the articles of federal and provincial legislation requiring that patients are “end-of-life” (in the case of the quebec act), or that “death is reasonably predictable” (in the case of the federal law) to have access to assistance to die.

Criteria which, according to the applicants, are unfair and contrary to the rights to equality and security provided for by the charters of rights because they condemn patients with degenerative diseases, without any hope of healing, to a slow death and cruel. The testimony of Mr. Truchon is expected Tuesday morning.

“The disease, it is a staircase that descends to walk by walking. I am in the basement ! “let go of Nicole Gladu, in this first vibrant witness, in spite of its extreme frailty and his breath short.

“My body supports me more, because of the distortion of my column. […] Every breath is a constant effort that eats up the little energy I have left “, she added, sometimes prostrate on his scooter, sometimes clinging with one hand to the bar, unable to stay long in place due to a scoliosis severe.

“Life is energy ! If I’m a plant, I have a life. I can’t just exist, ” she contends, claiming the freedom to choose assistance to die when she wants to put an end to his sufferings. Made in 2016, his request was rejected, because it was not regarded as being in the ” end of life “.

Despite the after-effects of the serious illness that struck her at the age of 4 years, Ms. Gladu has led a distinguished career in journalism and diplomacy at the united Nations with a resilience and a strength of character unusual. But in 1992, his health had declined because of a syndrome that is incurable and degenerative, which forces him to constantly taking painkillers and to rely on a breathing support during the night.

An unjust law

Counsel for the applicants, Me Jean-Pierre Ménard, has argued that these customers, although made ” in the twilight of their lives, continued to fight “. He argues that the laws of canada (C-14), and provincial “they [were] robbed of their rights, and simply’, by adding the criteria of “end of life” and death ” predictable “, despite the position set out earlier in February 2015 by the supreme Court in the judgment in Carter.

The disease, it is a staircase that descends to walk by walking. I am in the basement !

— Nicole Gladu


To the contrary, the Attorney general of Canada argues that the limits laid down in the law help to achieve ” a balance between the right of persons to obtain assistance to die, the protection of vulnerable people (elderly, ill, or suicidal) and the interests of the company “. The limits imposed by C-14 comply with the spirit of the judgment in Carter, he said, since in this case, the complainant was ” dying “. “It is important to affirm the inherent value of each human life […] and vulnerable people must be protected from attacks on their lives,” insisted the latter.

Ms. Gladu believes that rather it is the shackles of the current law that will push the suicide of incurable cases, private aid to die, ” she said. “I don’t have many choices in my situation. Or I’m going [assistance to die], or I suicide or I am waiting “.

Mr. Ménard has put guard the tribunal against the temptation to “redo” the trial of the “relevance” of the help to die or drift off to “the land” of the mental health and vulnerable persons brandis by opponents. “The supreme Court has decided. The debate here is not intended to expand access to assistance to die “, he said, but whether the criteria of the act are “fair” to the applicants the rights guaranteed by the charters. The superior Court must render a decision no later than June 2019, at the end of these hearings spread over more than 30 days where the 23 experts will be heard.

The CAQ waiting

In Quebec, the minister of Health and social Services, Danielle McCann, refused to comment on the records in court. Before announcing its intentions, the government will take note of two expert reports on the enlargement of the assistance to die, expected within the month of June. “When we became aware of these reports, we will announce our colors,” said Alexandre Lahaie, press attaché to the minister. During the election campaign, the CAQ has been open to the idea of expanding access to medical assistance to die, especially for people with Alzheimer’s disease or a disease cognitive related. François Legault had proposed the holding of a consultation “non-partisan” to work on the folder.

The liberal mp André Fortin, himself, to judge that the criterion of “death reasonably foreseeable” cause problem to the people in living situations like those presented in the court. “The quebec law on medical aid in dying respects the skills that we have. It is not clear that the federal law meets the criteria identified by the supreme Court in the judgment in Carter, which oversees the medical assistance to die in the country “, he said.

On the side of Ottawa, the federal government has already indicated last September that a provincial law is more “permissive” would be ” inoperative “, but has not made a new statement since then.

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