Quebec introduces medically assisted suicide legislation

Sarah Hofmann Contributor
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A bill that would allow Quebec residents to seek “medical aid to die” has been introduced in their National Assembly a few days before legislators go out of session for the summer.

They don’t expect to debate on it until the fall, CTV reports.

The legislation is the result of a report released in March 2012 by a nonpartisan committee that found that the majority of Quebecois were in favor of giving terminally ill patients the option to have a doctor end their life.

The bill is strict with definitions of what condition the patient must be in to request a doctor to assist them in committing suicide. Patients would have to have a Medicare card to receive medical aid to die.

The bill also includes 24 medical recommendations, including changes to Quebec’s current palliative services.

CBC News reports that advocates have been emphasizing that the approach to medically assisted suicide will be different than the American version currently legal in Vermont, Oregon, Washington and Montana.

In those states, a patient can have a doctor write a prescription for a fatal dose of medication, and the patient can end his life by himself. In this bill, a doctor would have to be present while the act occurred.

Quebec Social Services Minister Veronique Hivon, who introduced the bill, said, “This legislation is intended for people at the end of their life to die with autonomy and dignity.”

Government house leader, Stéphane Bédard, said, “I believe we are capable of holding this debate at this time. Society is ready for it.”

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