“At best this is a grievously misdirected compassion that suggests killing as the remedy to what is hard about dying, or worse still, the cure to what is hard about life.” Don Hutchinson, EFC
The following are talking points on Bill 52:
Euphemism – deceptive language
- Quebec is seeking to legalize euthanasia through Bill 52 which was presented in the National Assembly in June 2013 and is due for debate and vote in the fall session. Bill 52 employs the use of the term “medical aid in dying” instead of using the word euthanasia, a tactic used to downplay the Quebec government’s deliberate intention to legalize euthanasia, a federally prohibited act. Bill 52 is about euthanasia, and the term "medical aid in dying" in no way mitigates the fact that, if passed, Bill 52 will in effect allow doctors to kill their patients.
- The term “medical aid in dying” is intended to make euthanasia into a “health issue” and therefore a provincial matter, circumventing the prohibition of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide in the Canadian Criminal Code, which is a federal matter.
- Deceptive language is an injustice to the public, who are at the very least owed honesty about what is at stake. The Quebec government is engaged in an exercise of verbal engineering.
- Although Quebec admits to modelling their Bill on the Belgium situation, unlike Belgium, Quebec wants to avoid the use of the term euthanasia.
- When palliative care physicians are threatening resignation over Bill 52, it is a strong indication that “medical aid in dying” is euthanasia and NOT palliative care.
- In Quebec the Physicians’ Alliance for Total Refusal of Euthanasia, was formed with over 500 doctors signing the declaration calling on Quebec to stop Bill 52 from possibly going into effect as early as this Fall.
“MEDICAL AID IN DYING” is not health care
- “Medical aid in dying” sounds like a good option which every patient should have a right to. The question is will this be a service that the patient will ask for, or will it become a service administered for the patient’s “own good” regardless of that person’s consent or even knowledge? In other words, how quickly will “medical aid in dying” evolve from being something that is requested to something that is prescribed?
- The term "medical aid" will make it more difficult to protect the freedom of conscience of the doctors and other medical health practitioners who will have to deny this “medical aid” if they object to taking patients’ lives. Physicians not prepared to provide this new “right” to patients could be sharply criticised and or disciplined, because after all, it is a failure to provide “medical care”.
- Currently, Bill 52 would oblige any physician who refuses to provide this “medical aid” to inform their supervisor of the patient's request, so that a willing doctor could be found.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESPONSE: “Euthanasia is against the law”
- Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s response in a statement issue to the press: “The laws that prohibit euthanasia and assisted suicide exist to protect all Canadians, including those who are potentially the most vulnerable, such as people who are sick or elderly, and people with disabilities.".
- The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the constitutionality of the existing law against assisted suicide in the Sue Rodriguez case in 1993, and three years ago, parliament voted not to change that law.
- An important question now is, will the Federal government defend the vulnerable, or will it appease Quebec?
- This is a federal issue as a federal law is being contravened by Bill 52. Members of Parliament must respond appropriately. What the Criminal Code defines as murder – like doctors killing their patients - is off limits to provincial jurisdiction. And it’s up to the federal government to uphold the Criminal Code.
- Unlike the abortion law which was struck down in 1988, the euthanasia law in the Criminal Code was not struck down. Euthanasia is illegal today. Quebec is encroaching on the federal government's jurisdiction over Criminal Law.
QUEBEC PROMISES OF SAFEGUARDS AND THE BELGIUM MODEL
- The Quebec minister offered assurances of public safety that are not credible. The Quebec bill is based on the Belgian euthanasia model. The 10 year old Belgian model is already shown to be failed and dangerous. Studies in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (June, 2010) indicated that the law was widely abused. Almost one-third of euthanasia deaths were illegally performed without patient consent. And half of nurses administering euthanasia did so without the patients knowledge and consent.
The researchers found that a fifth of nurses admitted being involved in the assisted suicide of a patient. But nearly half of these - 120 of 248 - also said there was no consent.
“The nurses in our study operated beyond the legal margins of their profession,” said the report's authors in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
“It is likely many nurses ' under-reported' their involvement for fear of admitting an illegal activity,” the study said.
NOT DEAD YET
- More and more, euthanasia applies to those not dying – the newborn disabled, those depressed, those with a chronic condition. If killing is an answer for human suffering, and suffering is an elastic concept, more and more candidates are expediently found, whether with or without their consent.
- The pro-euthanasia recommendations of the Quebec National Assembly’s Select Committee on Dying with Dignity were radically in favour to total patient autonomy in choosing euthanasia regardless of their physical or mental condition.
- The guiding principle of this report is radical personal autonomy. The patient decides if their life is worth living. Or not. As the report boasts, it’s part of the progressive “evolution of social values” THAT YOU GET TO HAVE A DOCTOR KILL YOU IF YOU SO WISH. Another term for this is EUTHANASIA ON DEMAND – seen as a right of the individual and demanded from the medical profession.
THE ANSWER – MORE PALLIATIVE CARE
- Doctors and palliative care physicians have the tools they need to respond effectively to their patient’s pain and suffering.
- Only 16% to 30% of Canadians (10% – 20% in Quebec) who die currently have access to or receive hospice palliative and end-of-life care services,[i] whereas 90% of Canadians who die can benefit from hospice palliative care.[ii]
- Although Canada ranks ninth in an international ‘Quality of Death’ index released July 14th, 2010, we are still unable to provide valuable hospice palliative care services to over 70% of those dying within Canada.[iii]
- Dr. Gerald Van Gurp, a Montreal family doctor who specializes in home palliative care for terminally ill patients says in his 30 years of palliative care practice, he has rarely encountered a case where a patient's pain could not be relieved.[iv]
"Once you relieve the pain, once you get a supportive relationship — you have nurses, doctors coming [into their home] they don't want the lethal injection anymore."
Due to the fact that there are so few terminally ill patients receiving the kind of care he provides, Dr. Van Gurp says, “there are a lot of people suffering, in pain, but the solution is not to introduce euthanasia, it's to introduce high quality palliative care. Not expensive. Not high tech. But you need responsive doctors and nurses."
- If there is already a shortage of palliative care options in Quebec and the rest of Canada, euthanasia will act only as a disincentive to provide more. It will always be easier and more cost effective to kill patients rather than care for them properly.
[i] The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, Fact Sheet, May 2012. See the entire report here: http://www.chpca.net/media/7622/fact_sheet_hpc_in_canada_may_2012_final.pdf