QUEBEC CITY – Five years and two governments ago, Ghyslain Leblond pleaded for a chance to die with dignity.
Leblond suffers from multiple sclerosis. He said that he’s a prisoner in his own body, and when the time comes, he’s hoping someone will help him put an end to his suffering.
His testimony touched MNAs, who have continued, year after year, to shape and mould what would become Bill 52.
In a truly unusual move, the Liberals are now recalling the bill, from the previous Parti Quebecois government.
“The impact is to empower each and every one of us to decide, when we’re at the end of our life, to decide exactly how that life will end,” said Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette.
Exceptionally, the bill is co-authored by Barrette and PQ MNA Véronique Hivon.
“Today is a day of hope,” she said, for democracy, for parlementarism and the severely ill.
To qualify for medical aid to die, patients must be over 18 and suffering from an incurable disease, causing constant unbearable pain.
They have to be lucid and ask freely, in writing, for medical assistance.
The re-tabling of the bill hasn’t gone unnoticed. Dr. Marc Beauchamp from the Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia said on Friday that he will challenge it in court.
“Bill 52 promotes euthanasia,” he told Global News.
The Alliance and Living with Dignity said that they represent 625 physicians and 17,000 citizens.
“It’s their right to go ahead and take that action if they want but I’m not worried at all that it will be revoked in any way,” said Barrette.
Quebec is going around the Criminal Code by treating medical aid to die as a medical issue and therefore within provincial jurisdiction.
There are eight hours of debate left before MNAs pass the bill for implementation in 2015.