Medical Help to Die: Legal Requirements Are Invalid

Published: 

Totalpics / iStock / Thinkstock

Last January we discussed the case of two Quebecers with incurable degenerative illnesses who were challenging the federal and provincial laws on medical help to die. They weren’t allowed to get help to die because their situations didn’t meet the legal requirements.  

After a 31-day court hearing, Judge Baudouin ruled in their favour.

 

“Unconstitutional” requirements

Only people whose natural death has become predictable or who are at the end of life can get medical help to die. However, the judge decided that these requirements violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because they’re too restrictive. Since the Charter is part of the Constitution, the requirements are “unconstitutional.”

 

Six months to change the law

Since the Constitution is the most important law in Canada, the judge declared these requirements invalid, meaning they no longer have any effect. However, the judge suspended this part of her decision for six months to give the provincial and federal governments enough time to change their laws so they respect the Charter.

As a result, for the next six months the requirement of either of a natural death that has become predictable, or an end of life situation, will continue to apply, except for the two people who challenged the laws.  This means they can get medical help to die if they want it and if they meet the other requirements.  

 

What happens next?

This isn’t necessarily the end of the story. The federal and provincial governments can decide to appeal Judge Baudouin’s decision.  To be continued…