The Quebec National Assembly established a committee that began its consultation into the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide on February 15th.
Before reading this article you need to know that - Euthanasia is when one person (usually a physician) directly and intentionally causes the death of another person (often their patient) to eliminate suffering. It is dealt with under section 222 (homicide) of the criminal code of Canada.
The first presentations were made by Gaétan Barrette, Yves Lamontagne and Yves Robert from the Quebec College of Physicians and the Federation of Quebec Medical Specialists.
The presentations by the Quebec physician groups was not surprising. I continue to wonder if they are either deliberately misleading the public concerning euthanasia or they just don't understand the issue?
For instance, the Quebec Physicians groups continue to compare the use of analgesics, such as morphine, for the control of pain or management of symptoms as euthanasia. This is not true.
The abuse of the use of analgesics may be euthanasia, but the proper use of analgesics is never euthanasia.
They are also arguing that the use of sedation techniques is the same as euthanasia. This is not true.
The use of sedation is rarely necessary, but when properly used it is not euthanasia. Sedation can be abused and used as a form of euthanasia, but it is never necessary and it is wrong.
Another false and misleading statement was made at the commission hearings. Yves Robert, secretary of the College, told the committee that:
"Quebec is the only jurisdiction in Canada where patients can refuse medical treatment, which can lead to death.
"It doesn't exist elsewhere in Canada," Robert said. "We are ahead. Can we go farther?"
This is an outright lie. All Canadians have the right to refuse medical treatment. To refuse medical treatment is not euthanasia, but rather it results in a natural death. It is interesting that Robert is oblivious to the fact that the practise of medicine in Quebec is almost identical to the practise of medicine in the rest of Canada.
We must not confuse the right to refuse medical treatment with the act of euthanasia.
It is interesting that But Barrette and Yves Lamontagne of the Quebec College of Physicians told the committee that doctors do not want to perform assisted suicides.
"We are not there to execute people, Euthanasia, the decision to end life when death is imminent and inevitable, is extremely complex and emotionally charged," Lamontagne added.
When I read this comment I wonder, what do the Quebec physicians actually want. They say that they favour euthanasia but they do not want to perform assisted suicides. Are they saying that they want to have the right to lethally inject their patients but they don't want to have the right to prescribe lethal overdoses or are they saying that they want to withdraw treatment and use large doses of analgesics and sedatives but they don't want to lethally inject their patients? More information is necessary before I can answer this question.
Link to the article in the Montreal Gazette:http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Doctors+back+right/2568891/story.html
Link to a previous article concerning the position of the Quebec Physicians: http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/search/label/Quebec