Peter Baklinski

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Quebec legislature votes 94-22 to enshrine euthanasia as ‘medical aid in dying’

Peter Baklinski
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QUEBEC, June 5, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Quebec became the first Canadian province to legalize euthanasia today as the National Assembly voted 94 to 22 to allow doctors to kill their patients as “medical aid in dying.”

“This is a dark day in the history of this country,” said Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition to LifeSiteNews. The phrase ‘medical aid in dying,' he said, is a “fancy way of dressing up someone killing another person.”

Bill 52 was tabled one year ago by Pauline Marois’ former Parti Québecois government. Titled An Act Respecting End-of-Life Care, the bill allows those with “an incurable serious illness,” among other criteria, to request death by the hand of a doctor. The bill died on the order paper when Marois called an election in March, only to be reintroduced late last month — at the stage it had died — by the province’s new Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard. The bill was supported by all parties.

“What kind of society have we become when we think that killing someone is a 'mercy' or a way of solving a problem like pain that can be managed by other means?” asked Hughes. “It’s sad to see what is becoming of our great Canadian Nation.”

Georges Buscemi, president of Campagne Quebec-Vie, called the bill’s passage a “disaster that's been a long time in coming, like a tsunami on the horizon that has finally crashed on shore.”

“It seems to me more and more of these destructive waves have been crashing down upon us lately. ... It really does feel like the end of an era --the end of a civilization,” he said.

Buscemi said there is a way to “get out of this mess.”

“Again, the Benedictine way: ora et labora (prayer and work), in our small way, through concrete measures such as families, parishes, schools, homeschooling, vigilance, prayer, fasting. The Way of Mary, Mother of God. A return to silence, to proper liturgy, a return to sound and traditional doctrine. All this will come to pass ineluctably by God's providence, because the waves will wash away those in the Church who are dead in spirit.”

Hughes put it this way: "What this legislation shows more than anything is that human life has been downgraded from 'sacred' and 'inalienable' to 'utilitarian' and 'dispensable.'"

"This is not a step forward towards culture and civilization, but a giant leap backwards towards barbarity with all its cruelty and brutality."

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, called the bill’s passage “dangerous.”

"Let's be clear, Bill 52 gives Québec physicians the right to intentionally and directly cause the death of persons by lethal injection. This represents an act of homicide and not an act of ‘end of life care,’" he told LifeSiteNews.com

Schadenberg criticized the bill for not defining “end of life.”

“Québeckers should not trust their life to the provisions in Bill 52, which are imprecise, open to abuse and based on the Belgian euthanasia law," he said.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is calling on the federal government to bring an injunction against the euthanasia bill and to ask the court to strike down the bill as unconstitutional. It has created a petition urging the government to act. 

Canada’s Criminal Code currently prohibits euthanasia and assisted suicide. Human life advocates have accused the Quebec government of attempting to circumvent the Code by defining euthanasia in Bill 52 as “medical treatment.”

The federal government stated last June that it is aware of the conflict between the bill and federal law, indicating that it may take action if the bill passes.

“The laws that prohibit euthanasia and assisted suicide exist to protect all Canadians, including those who are potentially the most vulnerable, such as people who are sick or elderly, and people with disabilities,” then-Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said. “The Government of Canada will review the implications of Quebec’s proposed legislation on physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.”

Critics say that unless the federal government acts, the bill will set a precedent for euthanasia to become a normal part of the health care system across Canada.

The legislation has been vigorously opposed by an alliance of Quebec physicians who say they will have no part in administering death to patients, calling euthanasia through lethal injection “not a form of care, but rather the definitive end of all care." Canadian physicians in general are opposed to legalized euthanasia, with only 16 percent saying they would euthanize a patient if legal.

The bishops of Quebec, especially Montreal Archbishop Christian Lépine and Quebec Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, have strongly opposed the bill from the beginning.

Lépine did not mince words earlier this year about what Bill 52 would condone. “In hastening a person's death, … we are not helping them in dying, we are directly ending their life. It is to give our doctors the authority to kill patients who are vulnerable in certain circumstances,” he said.

The legislation has received mixed reviews from Quebec residents. An Abingdon Research poll last October found that support for the euthanasia bill dropped from 72 percent to 35 percent when respondents were informed of abuses perpetrated by euthanasia laws in other countries such as Belgium.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, expects Quebec’s euthanasia bill to open the door to the same abuses currently happening in Belgium, where studies have shown people are being euthanized without requesting it and where the categories of those eligible for death continues to expand.

Belgium recently became the first country in the world to approve euthanasia for children who request it with parental consent.

Quebec doctors are already calling for a more extensive list of those who qualify for a lethal injection, including children.

“As Quebecers become accustomed to doctors administering lethal injections to dying patients, the questions will not be about who is receiving euthanasia but who is being denied it,” said Yves Robert, secretary of Quebec’s College of Physicians, to the National Post in February.

Hughes said that the “safeguards” built into the legislation will end up protecting no one.

"We're kidding ourselves if we think ‘safeguards’ will protect anyone. Just look at how well that's worked in Belgium. Euthanasia has become a nightmare there and now they've passed a law to allow euthanasia for children. The categories of the killable will just keep on expanding. Safeguards will do nothing to prevent this."

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