Monday, December 7, 2015

Code Black: Québec Euthanasia - Kill and Conceal

By Jean Echlin 
President - Euthanasa Prevention Coalition

Quebec’s euthanasia experiment that was scheduled to begin on December 10, 2015 is the only law in the world which attempts to coerce physicians and palliative programs into providing euthanasia. Thankfully, a Québec Superior Court Justice prevented the launch of euthanasia in Québec based on its conflict with the federal Criminal Code

The methods used by the Quebec government and the Quebec College of Physicians are bullying, threatening and abusive to doctors and agencies providing palliative care. These words come from a report that was written after the recent “Euthanasia Symposium: Theory and Reality about Euthanasia” held in Montreal October 31, 2015, sponsored by The Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia; Living with Dignity network and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Included in the report:
  • Physicians around the world have always rejected euthanasia as a public safety hazard driving people to throw away years of their lives.
  • It provides caregivers and heirs with enormous power. The illusion of control will erode medical diligence in the care of people chronically disabled and acutely disabled by illness. 
  • Suffering is feared by most people at the end-of-life. We must find less dangerous options to constant availability of “death on demand.” For the small minority of patients for whom other options are not completely effective, palliative sedation can answer all symptom control problems.
The existing 29 palliative care centres in Quebec said NO to medically assisted death. The University of Montreal Hospitals (CHUM) stated that euthanasia will not be provided in its’ palliative care department.

Following refusals to euthanize by doctors and palliative care agencies, Dr Gaétan Barrette, the Québec Minister of Health and Social Services suggested that the government would cut subsidies to all palliative care centres in Quebec after all decided not to offer euthanasia.

The most significant feature is that the Quebec College of Physicians “Practice guidelines for medical aid in dying” orders the doctors to falsify the cause of death on the official death certificate required by the Public Health Act, for patients who die by euthanasia called “medical aid in dying” (MAD). Instead doctors must write the disease/condition which justified the MAD. This runs contrary to the Public Health Act Regulations that stipulates “the cause of death must be indicated in the most accurate manner possible.” This practice constitutes a breach of ethics and will lead to serious abuse and distort official statistics on actual causes of death in Quebec.

Euthanasia is homicide not medical care. We must listen to the majority of physicians and our hospice palliative care programs. We can ill afford to lose either.

Jean Echlin, RN, MScN
Nurse Consultant-Palliative Care & Gerontology
Adjunct Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing
University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario

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