Terminally ill patients in British Columbia are wondering whether a recent Quebec law will finally mean an end to their fight for their right to die.
On Thursday the National Assembly in Quebec passed Bill 52, known as the 'dying with dignity' law, allowing terminally ill patients to have medical aid in dying.
Multiple sclerosis patient Elayne Shapray has been fighting for the right to have a physician-assisted death for years now. The 67-year-old says she is pleased with the Quebec government’s decision.
“Certainly, for me personally, I am glad to see that the government is stepping in the right direction.”
Shapray says the news gives her hope. But she doesn’t think change will happen fast enough.
In October 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear an appeal of the ruling that upheld Canada’s ban on doctor-assisted suicide.
“Hopefully they will overturn the judgment and make it not illegal to help someone. But it still has to go to Parliament and they would have to change the law, so we are looking down the ways a bit.”
The Quebec bill allows for terminally ill patients to request medical aid in ending their lives, if they meet certain conditions. One of those conditions is a residency requirement, meaning patients need to be insured under the Quebec health care system.
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Dying with Dignity Canada chief executive officer Wanda Morris says many of the group’s terminally ill patients are considering moving out east.
"Many of our members have said, when this happens, they're going to be looking at option of moving to Quebec."
Morris acknowledges that a gravely ill person has little energy or desire to move, and hopes the decision will influence other provinces and territories to follow suit.
“I think the real breakthrough is Quebec pointing the way. Politicians have often felt this is a hot potato and they don’t want to touch it, but now I think they will see it as a political winner and it will be something they will grab on to,” said Morris.
Morris says what happened in Quebec is a victory for common sense. She says finally, people who are suffering and facing the prospect of a horrific death, will now have options.