Quebec Passes Bill Granting Right-to-Die to the Terminally Ill

Terminally ill patients in Quebec may now elect to end their lives. The new law comes at a time when national debate on voluntary euthanasia is heating up in Canada.

What's the Latest?

The Québécois National Assembly on Thursday passed a bill legalizing right-to-die for the terminally ill. Bill 52, which passed with a 94-22 vote, details the conditions under which a terminally ill patient can request to end their life. The legislation is the first of its kind in Canada and early rumblings indicate the federal government is likely to challenge the measure. Right-to-die has been a hot-button topic in Canada for years, the most notable recent case being that of Gloria Taylor, an ALS patient who died in 2012.

What's the Big Idea?

While not as publicized as recent debates over issues such as same-sex marriage, there has been a steady international discussion over right-to-die for quite a while now. There are currently five U.S. states -- Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico -- where a physician can prescribe life-ending drugs to a competent, terminally ill patient. A 2013 Gallup poll determined that a majority of Americans support right-to-die. Interestingly, the poll also determined that respondents were more likely to support "end[ing] the patient's life by some painless means" rather than "assist[ing] the patient to commit suicide," indicating that the the way the debate gets packaged is almost as important as the debate itself.

After legalizing right-to-die, Quebec joins the aforementioned five U.S. states as well as Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Albania. So-called "mercy killings" were legal in Australia's Northern Territory from 1995 to 1997.

Read more at CBC

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