In the headlines: Quebec judge overturns parts of federal, provincial laws on medically assisted dying

A Quebec Superior Court justice has ruled that parts of the federal and provincial laws on medically assisted dying were “too restrictive”.

Loosening the restrictions doesn’t sit well with us.

For years, Community Living Ontario advocated that medical assistance in dying should strictly be reserved for those who are actually dying. We worked to ensure proper safeguards were in place to protect people and their rights. We are now concerned about the potential negative consequences of this recent decision.

Specifically, we are concerned it will reinforce the stereotype that a life with a disability is a life not worth living.

We agree with the Managing Director of Institutes for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society, Michael Bach’s thoughts expressed in an opinion piece published in the Toronto Star this week.

In the article, Bach explains, “people who are not at the end of life will nevertheless be able to access assisted death on the basis that their disability is grievous and irremediable and they experience suffering they find intolerable.”

Bach goes on to say “Negative stereotypes are an undeniable cause of disability-related disadvantage and suffering. The Quebec Superior Court struck a blow to social rights in Canada when it rejected the end of life requirement. Its decision institutionalizes the idea that disability can justify terminating a life. Stereotypes don’t get much worse than that. And they do real harm.”

We understand that this is a complex issue and will continue our advocacy work. Ultimately, we hope the Supreme Court protects the original objective of this legislation which is to “to affirm the inherent and equal value of every person’s life and to avoid encouraging negative perceptions of the quality of life of persons who are elderly, ill or disabled.”

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