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Euthanasia bill passes Quebec legislature

Assisted suicide remains illegal in Canada, and the vote sets up a showdown between the province and the federal government, which does not permit assisted suicide.
By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   June 9, 2014 at 2:31 PM

QUEBEC CITY, June 9 (UPI) -- A bill allowing a doctor to administer death-causing medication to a consenting patient, the first of its kind in Canada, passed in Quebec's National Assembly.

Bill 52 passed by 94-22 in a non-partisan vote. Assisted suicide remains illegal in Canada, and the vote sets the stage for a showdown between the federal and sovereignty-minded province over its legality.

The bill, regarded as one respecting end-of-life care, could encourage some terminally-ill Canadians to move to Quebec. In its provisions, it codifies a requirement that the candidate for euthanasia must "be an insured person within the meaning of the Health Insurance Act" -- a reference to Canada's universal health care. This means that, while Quebec will not become an international tourist spot for doctor-assisted deaths, any Canadian citizen could undertake the procedure after residing in Quebec for several months.

That language was recommended in a 2012 report "to prevent people from coming to Quebec solely for the purpose of obtaining help to die" and differs from Switzerland's, whose Dignitas clinic states in its brochure it does not distinguish "between people who are suffering intolerably based on whether they are resident in Switzerland or abroad."

"You can apply for a medical card (in Quebec) and it doesn't take very long for you to get one because you're a Canadian citizen," said Alex Schadenberg said, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Wanda Morris of Dying With Dignity Canada, a supporter of the legislation, noted Oregon offers doctor-assisted euthanasia after a six-month residency requirement, but few have traveled there to take advantage of the law.

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