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Quebecers with degenerative diseases in court to assisted dying laws

Nicole Gladu, who is incurably ill, and her lawyer Jean-Pierre Menard arrive at the courthouse in Montreal on Monday, January 7, 2019, for the beginning of a trial challenging the provincial and federal laws on medically assisted death on the grounds they are too restrictive. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

MONTREAL — Two Quebecers suffering from incurable degenerative diseases are in court today challenging provincial and federal laws that have left them ineligible for medically assisted death.

Jean Truchon and Nicole Gladu don’t qualify to have a physician end their lives because, despite their suffering, they are not at the end of life.

Gladu suffers from post-polio syndrome and Truchon has cerebral palsy. Their requests for medically assisted death were refused because a natural death was not imminent, as required by federal and provincial law.

They are in court asking Quebec Superior Court to allow doctors to provide them with medical aid in dying and to invalidate certain articles of the federal and provincial laws.

They argue that the requirement that someone be at the end of life is ambiguous and creates uncertainty, leading some people to consider other methods, such as a hunger strike or suicide.

Their lawyer, Jean-Pierre Menard, plans to argue that the laws infringe Charter protections of the right to life and security as well as the right to equality. The trial is scheduled to last 33 days.

The Canadian Press