Petitclerc recounts her own experience with disability in final MAID bill debate

·1 min read

OTTAWA — Sen. Chantal Petitclerc has recounted her own experience with a disability in a bid to counter criticism of a bill to expand access to medical assistance in dying.

Disability-rights groups argue that Bill C-7 discriminates against people with disabilities, who they fear will prematurely end their lives rather than live in poverty, without adequate health care and support services.

Petitclerc, a former Paralympian who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, says she knows what it's like to be in a situation of "extreme vulnerability."

When she lost the use of her legs due to an accident when she was 13, Petitclerc says her mother was recently divorced and working in a low-paying job; she had to carry Petitclerc up the stairs to their apartment, which had no wheelchair access.

But, kicking off final Senate debate on the bill, Petitclerc says what she remembers most is the excruciating pain she endured for weeks after her accident.

If that pain were enduring and irremediable, she says she would seek a medically assisted death, which the bill would allow her do.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2021.

The Canadian Press