Quebec: doctors oppose the bill authorising euthanasia

Publié le : 24 October 2013

 During a press conference held on Tuesday 15 October, in Quebec, the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice (*) opposed the Quebec government’s draft bill 52 authorising the medically assisted right to die (Cf Synthèse de presse Gènéthique du 13 juin 2013). It denounced the project "as promoting the practice of euthanasia" and claimed that: "physicians practising euthanasia are likely to face criminal proceedings". In fact, according to Dr. Paul Saba, Coalition President, "a provincial law cannot overturn the Federal Criminal Code which prohibits the cause of death at the hands of another individual". 

Above all, "Dr. Saba reproaches the government for promoting euthanasia for economic reasons rather than investing in palliative care". This draft bill "appears to be in favour of saving money because it costs approximately 10$ to give someone a lethal injection compared to thousands of dollars to provide essential palliative care and millions upon millions to give people what they need – general practitioners and vital treatments", he explained. He also highlighted the fact that a bill of this kind could "encourage young people with physical illness such as cancer or psychological problems such as depression to abandon medical treatments that could otherwise save their lives". 
Dr. George Casteur, a Belgian doctor invited to the press conference by the Coalition to describe the spin-offs of Belgian legislation governing euthanasia, stressed that: "Very quickly, this law [i.e. the draft bill put forward by the Quebec government] will be heading towards a slippery slope. Firstly, a decision is taken to legislate that someone who is suffering and has only 24 hours left to live should be given the right to die. Secondly, why then doesn’t someone who will be suffering for the next 24 years have any rights?”  Consequently, according to Dr. G. Casteur, these spin-offs are inevitable over time since the criteria are becoming increasingly wide open instead of the opposite". 
(*) an organisation comprising Quebec physicians who promote the public health system universally and free of charge

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