Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Euthanasia and Assisted suicide debate in Quebec

Deborah Gyapong has written an update concerning the euthanasia debate in Quebec. Gyapong, who writes for the Canadian Catholic News, interviewed Linda Couture, the director of Vivre dans la Dignite (Living with Dignity). Couture has done an excellent job at building a coalition against euthanasia and assisted suicide in Quebec.

The reality is that the Quebec government committee continues to favour presentations that support euthanasia, even though the majority of the presentations have opposed euthanasia.

By the way, it appears that the Quebec committee is thinking about turning a blind-eye to euthanasia by establishing guidelines that will favour Belgium style Euthanasia. Couture is correct when she states that the people of Quebec really don't support euthanasia.

The article by Deborah Gyapong stated:

Quebec holds hearings on assisted suicide during “Suicide Prevention Week”

­As Quebec marked Suicide Prevention Week (Jan 30­ - Feb 5), the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity held hearings here testing support for legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The irony did not escape Linda Couture, who directs Living with Dignity, a grassroots, non-religious organization that has been monitoring the hearings as the committee travels across Quebec. Living with Dignity is also marshaling opposition from a wide range of groups and individuals to any changes to the law or its enforcement.

On Jan 30, Couture had received a copy of a press release from Marguerite Blais, the Quebec minister responsible for seniors, who kicked of Suicide Prevention Week by expressing alarm over the high rates of suicide among the elderly and criticizing the belief that suicide is a normal response to growing older.

Couture said Blais has made as eloquent a plea as any she has heard that suicide is never a normal or acceptable response to age or illness.

“How could a medicalized suicide be acceptable?” Couture asked. “There’s something missing. I don’t get it.”

The Select Committee composed of Members of Quebec’s National Assembly (MNAs) has been holding public hearings in cities across Quebec since September. Couture said she has attended most of them. The committee wraps up its hearings at the end of February and will then work on a written report.

On Feb 1, Ottawa Hospital Palliative Care chief Dr. Jose Pereira told the committee that legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide “places people at risk.”

“In Oregon, for example, where depression has to be excluded, we know that people with a depression are more likely to ask for assisted suicide or euthanasia,” he said. “That's very well-known.”

He added that in Oregon, one in six people who received assisted suicide were found to have untreated depression.

“My brother-in-law committed suicide last year, and it was a very difficult time for our family,” he said. “And, looking back, we feel it was a depression that wasn't treated. And, so, people with depression do ask for assisted suicide and do commit suicide.”

Pereira, who has worked in Switzerland where assisted suicide is allowed, said he observed the rules change over time. At first assisted suicide was only supposed to apply to those who are terminally ill, at the end of life and suffering.

Yet within two years, there was a campaign to allow assisted suicide for those “in long-term care facilities and nursing homes, for people who were elderly and felt that they didn't want to live anymore.”

Joan Lusignan, a private citizen in her eighties, testified the Special Committee had her worried. “What will our children and future generations think of a government that on one hand spends large sums of our money and effort to help prevent the escalating rate of suicides among young people in Quebec, but at the same time allows other people to help them commit suicide?”

The problem of suicide doesn’t just affect one person, it haunts the whole family for generations,” she said.

Couture said she is worried about how political the process has become. She noted how the MNAs tend to zero in on the five or six hard cases of individuals whose stories seem to recur over and over at the hearings.

“They really get stuck on the individual stories, the exceptions,” Couture said. “We don’t build a law on exceptions like that. We can’t afford to do that.”

Most of the MNAs’ questions, especially for those who identified themselves as religious, raised the hard cases of those suffering from terminal illness who clearly want death.

They asked why they think they can impose their religious views on others who disagree.

Couture said that line of questioning is typical.

There have been 300 or so testimonies presented to the Select Committee so far. Most of them---about 80 per cent---have been made by individuals. The rest are have been made on behalf of groups. Couture estimates they have been about two to one against legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide.

But reports have said the presentations are about 50/50, she said.

The committee has also said it is not numbers they are interested so much as the “quality” or the emotional appeal of the presentation, especially from individual citizens, Couture said.

Yet emotionally touching stories of those who pitched in as a family to take care of dying parents and spouses “don’t seem to touch them,” she said.

The process has been set up to test the tolerance level for assisted suicide in those exceptional cases, said Couture, but she warned the province better “think twice” about introducing a new bureaucracy that might require two doctors signing off to kill patients when “one million people like me don’t have a family doctor.”

The province did not expect the level of response, she said. If politicians go ahead and “smuggle” in euthanasia and assisted suicide under euphemism like “medical aid in dying” she believes Quebeckers will find it unacceptable and rise up.

1 comment:

Ironsides said...

Alex, I wish I had had enough time to talk with Linda Coture after the hearings the day I went, but I was having a rough time breathing, and with my bladder.

After my unscheduled speech, I needed the washroom, but wanted to go back and just sit-in on the next few sessions, as long as a I could.

The fact that, as Linda's explanation illustrates , they really don't care what the people are saying, but are more concerned in using the extreme cases of miserable atheist God-basher,, Christian-bashers to overthrow what the majority of us who give God and Jesus Christ first place in our lives, are saying.

Those people would not have such gruesome, miserable suffering, if they stopped rebelling against God, and his son, Jesus of Nazareth, who is the son of God, whether we can prove it scientifically or not.

I'm not a religious guy, and I think you yourself have mentioned that, which I consider a compliment. As Zeitgiest Movement leaders stress, religions have been some of the earliest form of goverrnemnt.

The governments have never solved the problems of the world, and politicians never will. The problems the world has are technical, and it is scientists who are best capable to solve the problems through peer-reviewed research. In this point, I am in agreement with the Zeitgeist Movement.

It is obvious from all the laws which the Duty-to-Die Societies have managed to set up, and are now working to build in Australia again, Sudan, Malaysia and other parts of Asia and Africa, that this has nothing to do with "COMPASSION and CHOICES"!

This seems to have to do with de-population, and feeling that man has a right to choose his own destiny.

The reason I'm not "religious" is because Jesus never came to start a "religion". As mean and nasty as I can get, if people were not so offensive, there would be no problem. But I've seen too many pacifist, non-violent people be walked-al-over, shit-on ands rolled-out in body-bags in my life-time.

So, the fact tha this place has improved since my wife died, is no credit to the increased number of layers of executive departments in health-care. It's because in 2005, they understood from what happened a year earlier to a patient (an old thug who threatened my wife), after I didn't retaliate against an employee who took a swing at me.

Last night a situation happened, with a PA who hasn't been on this floor for many months. This morning I talked to the new head-nurse, and he called him in about it.

As long as the head-nurse is willing to take situations seriously, I don't mind backing-off. All I asked last night, was for him to relay a message to the RT, that I'd like to get to sleep earlier, and not have to wait 'til 10:30 p.m. to get on the ventilator. He refused, and said: "they're not your slaves, you know".

I get up at 5 am so I can start my day. Sometimes I take a siesta after lunch, and work late into the evenings, studying and posting to 5 different networks, including Facebook, because alot of my contacts meet on Facebook.

Recently, I'm having a hard time with my respiratory situation, and am back on oxygen for longer periods. Some RT's are flexible, and some ore not, which is why I asked him to relay a message.--But that's what I got hit-in-the-face with.

The patient down the hall, a Lou Gherics patient recently filed a detailed complaint to the CEO, and the Patient-Committee (I think), and I think it might help his situation.

Concerning the two documents put out in the Fall, I think I did a written response to one of them, but still need to do a response to the other one on Palliative-Care.

As I said last year, after the vote against Francine Lalonde's third bill, there needs to be a total overhaul in the mental concepts people have in hospitals, and all long-term care facilities.

I'm glad to see a strong opposition to legalized killing in Quebec, and Canada.

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