QUEBEC, April 30, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An organization of Quebec physicians that consistently opposed the previous Quebec government's contentious 'medical aid-in-dying' euthanasia bill (Bill 52), have blasted Quebec's new premier, Philippe Couillard, for announcing the day after his election that he plans to reintroduce the legislation.
“We congratulate you on your victory in the April 7 election. Nonetheless we feel compelled to express our deep disappointment, and that of many medical colleagues and other Quebec citizens, at your announcement the day after the election that you intend to reintroduce Bill 52, including medical aid in dying,” wrote Dr. Balfour Mount, Emeritus Eric M. Flanders Professor of Medicine at Montreal's McGill University and considered to be the leader in palliative care research in North America.
His remarks came in an open letter from the Physicians’ Alliance for Total Refusal of Euthanasia to Premier Couillard that was also signed by Dr. Serge Daneault, Chief of Palliative Care Service at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal.
The Alliance, consisting of 625 physicians and 12,334 citizen supporters, is calling on all of the province’s doctors to recognize the dangers inherent in the bill, which tries to circumvent Federal law that prohibits euthanasia and assisted suicide by redefining it as “health care.”
“Knowing that in October 2013 you expressed serious reservations about the “medical aid in dying” component of Bill 52, we are mystified by your about-face on this very grave question,” Dr. Mount wrote.
“It is impossible to legalize euthanasia without putting vulnerable patients at risk, as the experience in Belgium and other countries shows clearly,” he stated.
He stressed that “Bill 52, with or without the amendments, goes even further than the Belgian law; it defines medical homicide as health care and requires that it be available to all patients who meet the exceedingly broad criteria set out in the bill.”
“As a physician you are conscious of the power imbalance between us and our patients, and how patients can be manipulated to consent even by well-meaning health professionals,” Dr. Mount said.
The letter also addressed the disinformation that has been given to the Quebec public to shape its perception of what the bill calls for.
“The public, who seems to be clamouring for so-called death with dignity, is largely unaware that what is being proposed to them is a homicidal act and that skilled palliative care and wise management of end-of-life decisions are sufficient to address the fears leading to their request,” Dr. Mount stated.
In order to bring back Bill 52 in its last form before the Quebec election, Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, explained that Couillard would need unanimous consent from the new provincial government, and even if passed, would be challenged by the federal government.
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“Québec Premier Couillard is making a serious error in judgment,” Schadenberg told LifeSiteNews. “If the Québec government re-introduces a euthanasia bill identical to Bill 52 they will need to go through the full parliamentary process, and, if the bill passes it will be challenged as unconstitutional in the courts.”
Schadenberg noted that the Québec government does not have the jurisdiction to legislate concerning euthanasia “because euthanasia is not medical treatment and it is not healthcare. Euthanasia is a type of homicide.”
“Couillard should introduce a bill,” Schadenberg said, “but that bill should only include provisions to improve palliative care in Québec.”
The full text of the Physicians’ Alliance for Total Refusal of Euthanasia letter to Premier Couillard is available here.
The Physicians’ Alliance is inviting doctors and concerned citizens to sign a declaration stating that legalizing euthanasia is “contrary to the goals of medicine and the good of our patients, especially the most vulnerable and those who cannot speak for themselves.”