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Jean-Pierre Menard, Jean TruchonJean Truchon, right, looks on as lawyer Jean-Pierre Menard gives their reaction to a Québec judge overturning parts of provincial and federal laws on medically assisted dying.

Ruling undermines legislators’ power to protect vulnerable, says professor

A ruling by the Québec Superior Court which invalidated Canada’s “reasonable foreseeable death” and Québec’s “end of life” access criteria for medical assistance in dying must be appealed, says Windsor Law professor Laverne Jacobs.

Together with Trudo Lemmens, a professor in the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, she wrote an article in the Conversation saying the Truchon decision undermines Parliament’s power to issue legislation aimed at preventing suicide and protecting the rights of people who are elderly, ill, or disabled.

The case was brought by Nicole Gladu and Jean Truchon, Québec residents who have physical disabilities that significantly reduce their mobility and cause intolerable pain. After they were deemed ineligible to receive medical assistance in dying because they were not at the end-of-life stage, they went to court. In response, the Québec Superior Court struck down the law’s requirement that people can only receive medical assistance to end their lives when death is reasonably foreseeable.

The Conversation article argues that attorneys general in both Québec and Ottawa need to appeal: “It would send a terrible signal if both … governments concede that one judge can curtail Parliament’s power to promote broader societal interests in protecting people who are elderly, ill, or disabled.”

Dr. Jacobs, associate dean of research and graduate studies, says the ethical questions require greater consideration.

“We hope that this piece will encourage people to think about the broader societal issues related to medical assistance in dying, in addition to their own individual situations,” she says.

The Conversation is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public. Read the entire piece, “The latest medical assistance in dying decision needs to be appealed: Here’s why.”

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