Quebec: euthanasia under debate

Publié le : 19 June 2013

 On Wednesday 12 June, the Deputy Minister for Social Services presented "a bill aimed at authorising euthanasia [in Quebec] in the form of medically assisted dying," a first in Canada.

The bill, entitled "Law concerning end-of-life care" will be debated by the Quebec Parliament in the autumn. It organises and regulates "the end-of-life care" that is aimed at "accompanying a patient progressively towards death by slowing down their food input," as well as "medically assisted dying" which involves allowing the administration of a medicine putting "an end to the sufferings of the person" who requests this. According to the minister, "only an adult person of sound mind at the end of life who expressly requests this freely, clearly and repeatedly and who meets the strict conditions laid down in the bill, notably to have contracted a serious and incurable disease, to experience the advanced and irreversible decline of their capacities and to feel constant, unbearable and untreatable suffering, can make a request for medically assisted dying.
While some opinion polls reveal that 70-80% of the population would be favourable to this new law, a number of prominent figures in Quebec, notably doctors, have publically expressed their worry. They include the Collectif de medecins du Refus médical de l’euthanasie (1) and the Vivre dans la dignité (2) network. Likewise, Dr Paul Saba, of the Coalition des medecins pour la justice sociale (3) explains that the bill "constitutes a quick way of abandoning patients at the end of life." He also denounces the economic reasoning behind this bill: "the government is proposing cheap care for the most vulnerable, either a quick death by injection or a gradual death without any guarantee of suitable care in a system that seeks economies by every means. It’s indecent!".

(1) Doctors’ Collective Medical Refusal of Euthanasia
(2) Living in Dignity
(3) Doctors’ Coalition for Social Justice

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