Euthanasia: Quebec challenged on surplus cases

Publié le 27 Dec, 2017

On 10 December 2015, euthanasia, “referred to as ‘medically assisted dying’”, was legalised in Quebec (Canada). Within two years, “Quebec is paving the way, choosing death as a solution to suffering”, putting “vulnerable individuals at considerable risk” and justifying “the legitimate fear of individuals who are opposed to the idea of giving so much power to certain members of our society”.


The law provided for “safeguards to prevent abuse” and stipulated “other stringent criteria”. “First and foremost, it wants legislation to grant access to high-quality palliative care throughout the region”. But the “exceptional measure has been rapidly transformed in response to a need“.


In the first year, Quebec recorded “about a hundred requests”, whilst, in reality, “469 people died through euthanasia in 2015-2016”, and 638 the following yearA comparison of these and Belgian figures (in terms of the total percentage of deaths) shows that, “the first year in Quebec corresponds to the sixth year in Belgium, whereas the second year in Quebec ranks between the seventh and eighth year under Belgian law“.


The “safeguards” are ineffective since the same doctor follows all of the stages in the process. He/she “evaluates the patient and gives the diagnosis”. He/she is also the person who “initiates death and completes the declaration of procedural compliance to the monitoring commission“.


The Commission sur les soins de fin de vie (CSFV) (Commission on End-of-Life Care) recorded “21 cases of abuse in the first year and 31 new cases of abuse the following year“. However, the Collège des médecins (College of Physicians) has ruled that “none [of these] cases warrants punitive action“, introducing “repeated violations of the Law justifying abuse by impunity“, whereas numerous situations “should have triggered alarm bells“.


In this context, “a new public debate” is to be feared. It could transform “the exceptional measure” into “a solution to promote” euthanasia, “sold like a personal choice“, implying “nevertheless that our health system” is embarking on a slippery slope towards choosing a doctor “who then targets another person“.


Furthermore, “there has been no effective follow-up on access to palliative care” over the past two years[1]. And “rather than seeking to rectify this major defect, the Government of Quebec recommends investigating why requests for euthanasia are being turned down![2].


In addition, “the final care administered to an end-of-life patient should be delivered with a hand that heals rather than a hand that kills“. “What is the point of having legislation, criteria and a monitoring committee if physicians can choose whether or not to implement them?


[1] In its latest report, the CSFV states that, “such data cannot be processed at the present time given the variability in the reported information concerning the number of end-of-life patients who received palliative care (CSFV Report, 3.2.1).

[2] Editor’s note: the article cites “Medically assisted dying: Minister Barrette initiates inquiry into why requests are being turned down”

Huffingtton Post Québec, Aubert Martin (11/12/2017)

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