Canada

Catholic Church files court challenge of Quebec’s assisted dying law

The office of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Montreal has filed a legal challenge against Quebec’s end-of-life legislation, arguing it violates religious freedom.

The lawsuit says the Catholic Church should be exempted from a section of the law requiring all palliative care homes in the province to offer medical assistance in dying.

It says the law is forcing the Catholic Church to choose between allowing a procedure it finds morally unacceptable or abandoning its palliative care centre, called St. Raphael’s. Since 2019, St. Raphael’s has sent patients requesting MAID to provincially run facilities, but the church says it should not be forced to provide medically assisted deaths on its property.

The office of Archbishop Christian Lépine says palliative care homes should have the same right as medical practitioners to refuse to offer services they are morally opposed to.

The Quebec palliative care association said in March 2023 that there were only four palliative care facilities in the province that didn’t offer MAID.

A spokesperson for the office of the provincial minister responsible for seniors, Sonia Bélanger, declined to comment on the legal proceedings but reiterated the government’s willingness to make MAID accessible.

“The will of our government was clear: Every person in a palliative care home can receive medical assistance in dying if they wish. All palliative care homes have offered it since the end of 2023, which is in accordance with the law,” read the statement from spokesperson Sarah Bigras.

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