Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Quebec Euthanasia: Be careful what you wish for!

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Quebec government appears intent on legalizing euthanasia, that they refer to as "assisted death" by defining euthanasia as a form of healthcare.

When analyzing the Quebec Dying with Dignity report and the proposals by the recent Menard report, it appears that Quebec is planning to implement a euthanasia law that mirrors the Belgian law.

Euthanasia is the intentional causing of death, whereby the death occurs directly from that act. Euthanasia has always been defined as part of the Homicide Act in the Criminal Code because, whatever the motive is, euthanasia is an act of killing.

How can killing be defined as a form of healthcare?
By defining euthanasia as a healthcare, access to euthanasia will inevitably be extended to everyone, because everyone is provided given equal access to healthcare. People who want to increase access to euthanasia, in the near future, will employ the equality provision in the Canada's Charter of Rights to convince the courts to logically extend euthanasia. The Quebec government seems to have intentionally defined euthanasia as medical treatment in order to introduce it in a limited form and then let the courts extend it to nearly everyone.

It should concern people that Quebec has chosen to mirror the Belgium euthanasia law. Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 and research has found significant abuse primarily related to the imprecise and wide-open definitions that the Belgium law uses.

Three recent studies from the Flanders region of Belgium found that:
  1. 32% of all euthanasia deaths were done without explicit request.
  1. 47% of all euthanasia deaths were not reported as euthanasia.
  1. Nurses are euthanizing their patients, even though the Belgium law limits the act of euthanasia to doctors
It is important to note, that even though independent studies have found significant abuses of the Belgium euthanasia law are occurring, not one doctor has been prosecuted in Belgium.

Now the Belgium government is considering changing the euthanasia law to include children and people with dementia/Alzheimer’s. This would once again widen the definitions of who qualifies for euthanasia.

Considering the concerns in Quebec related to the cost containment of healthcare and the concern with medical errors, is it not likely that Quebec will follow the lead of Belgium?

The only way to effectively protect people is by maintaining euthanasia as an illegal act and ensuring the proper care of people with chronic or terminal conditions.

Be careful what you wish for it may become something that you didn’t wish for.

The book by Alex Schadenberg, Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide uncovers data proving that unreported euthanasia deaths and the abuse of the euthanasia laws in jurisdictions, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, where it is legal, uncovers euthanasia deaths without request not only occur but represent a threat to vulnerable patient groups.  


Ainsley_Jo_Phillips said...

This is very scary and shouldn't be ignored!!!

It has the potential to be like dressing up The Nazi Holocaust in more appealing costumes but for the same purpose.

What a convenient way to get rid of our elderly, people with special needs, and people who are "unpopular" for one reason or the other!

danzig80 said...

I don't think there's going to be a holocaust of elderly and disabled people if assisted suicide or euthanasia were legalized. The same issues arise with withdrawing life-sustaining care or hastening deaths with palliative care (both of which are perfectly legal) and there hasn't been a huge influx of people "getting rid" of "unpopulars" as you say. I actually agree with the Quebec legislation in principle, but I also agree that there would need to be extremely stringent safeguards in place. Oregon and Washington have such safeguards in place and there is no evidence there of the "Nazi Holocaust" you fear.

But frankly I wouldn't worry much about the Quebec legislation anyway. They can call euthanasia "healthcare" or whatever they want but it will fall under ss. 241(b) (assisted suicide) and 222 (homicide) of the Criminal Code. The fact remains, the intent of such acts will be to kill or aid suicide and so clearly violate the Code. And yes, the Criminal Code still applies to Quebec too, despite what they may think.

marylynn said...

There really is NO NEED to make such a policy. As a Registered Nurse for 30 years I have encountered many people in the end of life situation. Compassion and common sense is the question here. If someone is in pain we allievate that pain with drugs. Can those drug cause death....yes....but only in the sense of relieving suffering in the end stages of life. Drugs may hasten death because the patient is peaceful and not screaming in pain. Be careful what doors you open....many of them can open avenues for abuse and don't think for a moment that can't happen.