Quebec committee recommends legalizing euthanasia
The Select Committee on Dying with Dignity Committee, commissioned by the Quebec National Assembly to study euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, released it’s report, “Dying with Dignity,” on March 22. The committee called for the province to legalize euthanasia, suggesting modest restrictions that anti-euthanasia groups say do nothing to protect the vulnerable.
Ignoring federal Criminal Code prohibitions on euthanasia and assisted-suicide, Dying with Dignity states that not only should Ottawa amend the Criminal Code but that in Quebec, “the pertinent laws should be modified to recognize medical aid in dying as an appropriate end to life option.” Euphemistically referring to “medical aid in dying” the committee wants assisted-suicide and euthanasia to be restricted to adult residents of Quebec who have a “serious and incurable disease” and who have requested medical help to end their lives. The committee also recommends that the patient must have “no prospects of improvement” and be experiencing “physical or psychological suffering which is constant and unbearable.”
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, has noted that the committee’s recommendations do not limit euthanasia to the terminally ill.
Schadenberg also said the so-called protections have not worked at restricting euthanasia in places that have legalized it such as Oregon and the Netherlands. More important, Schadenberg said, the report is based on a flawed and fundamentally anti-life philosophy. He told LifeSiteNews, “The Quebec Dying with Dignity report uses the philosophical approach of Peter Singer in which human life in-and-of-itself does not have any intrinsic value and where personhood is based on one’s mental capabilities or self-awareness.”
Schadenberg said that the report ignores Parliament’s overwhelming rejection of legalizing euthanasia in 2010 and fails to adequately address issues such as elder abuse and “vulnerability at the end of life.”
Schadenberg also observed that the commission recommends euthanasia deaths be reported after the death to monitor and evaluate whether the law is being abused. Writing in the National Post, Schadenberg said that will not do much good: “the reporting procedure does not protect people” because “if (and when) a report is analyzed, and if an abuse has occurred, the person is already dead; so no effective redress is possible.” Rather than to protect patients, the intention is to protect medical staff from criminal prosecution.
Georges Buscemi of Quebec Life Coalition told LifeSiteNews that the report simply confirms what he calls Quebec’s “collective suicide.” He expressed disappointment with the report, but no surprise. He said the culture needs to change: “Only a dramatic turn-around will save Quebec from extinction.” Buscemi called it another example of Quebec “refusing life, refusing policies that promote life.”
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family denounced “many of the recommendations put forward” in the report. COLF said the committee “chose to ignore the inherent dignity of the human person and the inestimable value of human life.” It also charged the committee with “giving more weight to the position of pressure groups calling for the decriminalization of euthanasia” than the two-thirds of groups and individuals who spoke against the practice during public hearings.
In its statement, COLF said, “Disturbingly, if the Committee’s recommendations are implemented, physicians will have unprecedented power — the alarming power to end the lives of their patients.”
COLF called upon the Charest government to reject most of the committee’s recommendations and focus instead on investing in palliative care in order to assist vulnerable and suffering patients. COLF said it was “essential that voters make it clear to their elected representatives that they are opposed to the decriminalization” of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Schadenberg acknowleded that there was some good in the Dying with Dignity report, including recommendations to improve to pain and symptom management and increased awareness of a full range of palliative care options. But, he said, until those issues are “systematically implemented” euthanasia cannot be “fairly addressed.”