Two Montrealers challenge assisted dying law

The debate over medical aid in dying is back in the courts, as two Montrealers argue the provincial and federal laws are too restrictive.

At issue is the provision in the law that states only terminally ill patients whose death is ‘reasonably foreseeable’ qualify to receive doctor-assisted death.

Lawyer Patrick Martin-Méynard, who will argue the case, says the criteria is arbitrary and unconstitutional.

“What we are saying is that the law that the government adopted is not compatible with the constitutional interpretation that the Supreme Court did in Carter,” he said in an interview with CJAD 800.

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that any patient of sound mind with intolerable suffering and no chance of recovery has the right to end their own life with the assistance of a doctor.

The two plaintiffs, 49-year-old Jean Truchon and 71-year-old Nicole Gladu, both suffer from degenerative diseases, but according to the law, are not close enough to the ends of their lives to be eligible, Martin-Méynard said.

“Under the Carter decision, both the plaintiffs would have been eligible to receive medical aid in dying, but they lost this right when the federal law was adopted,” Martin-Méynard said.

The case will be heard by the Quebec Superior Court, and has far reaching implications. If the judge agrees with the plaintiffs, it could open up access to many more Quebecers.

A total of 19 expert witnesses will take the stand on both sides of the argument. The hearings are expected to last for at least 33 days.