The following letter was published in the Montreal Gazette. Dr Catherine Ferrier is one of the leaders of the Quebec doctors group, the Physicians for the Total Refusal of Euthanasia.
The Quebec government has introduced a bill that would make it legal for a doctor to kill his or her patient. The bill is presented as a proposal to improve end of life care, so as to make it more palatable, but the poison is unmistakable. If the bill passes, the law will continue to protect the lives of young and healthy people, but for the elderly and terminally ill the only difference between a legal homicide and an illegal homicide will be a signature on a piece of paper
This bill is being driven by small lobby groups who want legal euthanasia at all cost, and the public has been taken in. Some have experienced the death of a family member whose symptoms were not adequately controlled; still others have no experience of death and are frightened by the reports that it’s always preceded by unbearable pain and suffering. This only happens when palliative care is not available (which is the case for 80 per cent of dying patients in Quebec). Still others think euthanasia is the same as withdrawing burdensome and unwanted treatment, which is perfectly legal and requires no new legislation.
We don’t need euthanasia: we need more and better end-of-life care. Do we really want to deny the tradition of all civilized societies that makes it a crime to take the life of any other human being? To give less protection to the old and sick than we do to convicted murderers? Let’s set a goal of universally available high quality medical and nursing care for every patient at the end of life. Now THAT’S a progressive cause.
I urge Quebecers to support the 500+ Quebec doctors who don’t want to become executioners: sign at caringalways.com.
Catherine Ferrier MD