Case closed: Quebec woman suing for right to assisted suicide dies of natural causes

The lawyer for Ginette Leblanc said his client “died with dignity” of natural causes on Saturday, effectively putting an end to her legal appeal.
Wed Feb 6, 2013 - 5:44 pm EST

MONTREAL, February 6, 2013 ( - The lawyer for a Quebec woman who launched a challenge against Canada's ban on assisted-suicide has said that his client “died with dignity” of natural causes on Saturday, effectively putting an end to her legal appeal. 

The remark appears to mark an about-face for the lawyer, who has argued on his client’s behalf that assisted suicide was necessary for her to “die with dignity.”

"Due to Leblanc's death the case is now closed," said Rene Duval, the lawyer hired by Ginette Leblanc, who suffered from ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease and wanted to end her life by legal assisted suicide.


On October 31, 2012, Ginette Leblanc's lawyer had submitted a notice of claim asking the Quebec Superior Court to overturn Section 241b of the Criminal Code, the section that prohibits assisted suicide, in order for Mme Leblanc to be allowed to commit suicide with medical assistance. 

The case was scheduled to be heard in Trois Rivières, Quebec, from March 25 - 28, 2013.

Alex Schadenberg, director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said that the notice of claim in the Leblanc case was nearly identical, with one exception, to the 1993 case of Sue Rodriguez, who also challenged the constitutionality of Canada's law against assisted suicide.

The Supreme Court of Canada had ruled against Rodriguez and stated that Section 241b of the Criminal Code was not unconstitutional, and that Canada's law against assisted suicide and euthanasia must be upheld because the state has a “fundamental interest in protecting human life," and an obligation to “protect the vulnerable.”

But Schadenberg pointed out that Leblanc's lawyer, Rene Duval, had a clause in his notice of claim which, if the case had been heard and the court had decided in favour of Leblanc, could have led not only to the legalization of assisted suicide, but also euthanasia.

Section 11 of the claim had suggested that a person committing assisted suicide could request to help of a doctor or another person to administer the lethal dose "due to physical limitations."

"To administer medication would constitute an act of euthanasia and not an act of assisted suicide," Schadenberg said.

Schadenberg warned that despite the Leblanc case being closed, the Quebec government, following the recommendations given in the Menard report, appears intent on legalizing euthanasia, or what they refer to as "assisted death," by defining euthanasia as a form of healthcare.

"It should concern people that Quebec has chosen to mirror the Belgium euthanasia law. Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 and research has found significant abuse primarily related to the imprecise and wide-open definitions that the Belgium law uses," Schadenberg said. 

"The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition offers condolences to the family of Ginette Leblanc as they grieve her loss," Schadenberg concluded.

  euthanasia, euthanasia prevention coalition, ginette leblanc

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