By Alex Schadenberg, executive director
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
The minority Parti Quebecois’ (separatist) government in Quebec has announced that it plans to introduce a bill to legalize euthanasia.
Media reports have quoted Véronique Hiver, the junior minister for social services as stating:
“We really feel that it is necessary to put forward such a possibility for people who, at the end of their life, are suffering in an unbearable manner.”
She stated that the idea was part of the Parti Quebecois’ election platform, and it was also recommended by an all-party National Assembly committee last spring.
She also said that her bill will be based on that committee’s report. Its guidelines said patients should only have access to the service if they are adult Quebec residents with a serious and incurable illness, and have given their express written consent. Hivon stated:
“We’re really talking about people who have unbearable suffering and who have no chance of improving their quality of life and whose death is really going to happen.”
I made the following comments to a media interview today:
First: The Quebec is discussing the legalization of euthanasia and not doctor-assisted suicide. In fact the committee has recommended Belgium style euthanasia.
Euthanasia involves a doctor lethally injecting a person while doctor-assisted suicide involves a doctor writing a lethal prescription for a person, knowing that they intend to use it for suicide.
Second: Quebec does not have the legal authority to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide but the government might allow euthanasia or assisted suicide through the back-door.
The Quebec government may decide not to prosecute cases of euthanasia or they may define the act of giving a person a lethal injection as a form of medical treatment. Euthanasia through the back-door is a very different concept than actually legalizing euthanasia.
Vivre dans la Dignité and the new group, the Physicians Alliance for the Total Refusal of Euthanasia will effectively challenge the Quebec government plans to allow euthanasia through the back-door.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Vivre dans la Dignité are also co-intervening in the Leblanc case in Quebec, a case that seeks to strike down Canada’s assisted suicide law.
[From CJAD radio]
“However, Hivon is arguing that Quebec will be able to pass this law without Ottawa [the capital of Canada]. ‘Quebec has jurisdiction over health and also over professional qualifications,’ she says. ‘So this gives us the confidence to introduce this medical aid in dying in our bill.’
“In order to be as thorough as possible, Hivon says the Parti Quebecois would also issue a directive to crown prosecutors to not enforce the part of the criminal code that bans doctor-assisted suicide, as long as a case fits the province’s criteria.”
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are a recipe for elder abuse and it is not safe to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide because it becomes abused in a similar way to what has occurred in Belgium. The Quebec government needs to protect its vulnerable citizens, not kill them.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog.