In Quebec, assisted suicide meets with reluctance from doctors

Publié le 8 Jan, 2018

In the Laval region of Quebec, 77% of doctors who received a medically assisted dying request, “invoked conscientious objection”. Surveys “carried out during assisted dying debates” showed that, although the doctors interviewed were not theoretically opposed to the principle of assisted dying, “few were at ease in performing this terminal procedure”[1].  


Furthermore, voices are nowadays being raised, encouraging other health professionals to take over. This is a sign that, if anything, in Quebec, assisted dying is about to be taken for granted, similar to the situation in Belgium.


However, these requests are being met with reluctance from the Collège des médecins (College of Physicians), who wants to keep a firm grip on evaluating patients likely to undergo “a complex medical procedure”, giving doctors time to incorporate this in practice. But is time needed to accept a non-medical procedure culminating in the death of the person on whom it is being performed? Do we need to convince practitioners who no longer recognise the boundaries between duty of care and complying with the patient’s alleged request (see Suicide vs. medically assisted dying: Canadian doctors are baffled)?


As for nurses, although the provisions of Canadian law allow them, in theory, to manage assisted suicide requests, the professional order of physicians “has already argued before the Parliamentary Committee that this procedure should remain the doctors’ prerogative”.


These issues are not unrelated to those of earlier debates which, in the name of general access to “public health services” such as abortion, led to authorising professionals other than physicians to implement these procedures. How can this desire to sow the seeds of death be qualified? The same pattern appears to be emerging in terms of euthanasia. This does not augur well.


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