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Steve Weatherbe

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Quebec’s euthanasia death toll stunningly almost doubled in second half of 2016

Steve Weatherbe

QUEBEC CITY, March 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The statistical report on Quebec’s first full year of state-sanctioned euthanasia shows an alarming trend that raises concerns about the rights of vulnerable Quebecers.

According to the Protection of Conscience Project, “Quebec’s euthanasia rate almost doubled in the last half of 2016.”

One year after legalization of assisted death, Quebec has passed the euthanasia rate that Belgium took five years to reach, the Project reported. “If Quebec's rate continues without escalation throughout 2017, it will exceed that achieved by Belgium after nine years.”

In absolute numbers, there were 256 requests for euthanasia in the first six months of 2016 and 441 in the second half in Quebec. There were 163 patients actually euthanized in the first six months and 286 patients in the second. When the government revealed the numbers for the first six months last November, it also indicated they were three times what was expected.

Quebec’s 449 euthanasia deaths comprised 0.7 percent of all deaths in 2016. In Belgium’s first year (2003), euthanasia accounted for only 0.2 percent of all deaths.

Quebec is ahead of Belgium in its first year by another significant measure, the number of euthanasia deaths per 100,000 people in the population. In Quebec last year, 5.4 people per 100,000 died by euthanasia, while in Belgium’s first year  2.5 people per 100,000 were euthanized. Not until the sixth year in Belgium did the country reach Quebec’s rate in its first year.

The nation that pioneered euthanasia was the Netherlands. It started in 2002 with a rate of 11.7 persons euthanized per 100,000 and now has surpassed 32 per 100,000.

Sean Murphy, the director of the Protection of Conscience Project, is concerned about the increase in numbers between the first half and the second. If Quebec’s growth “continues without escalation throughout 2017, it will exceed that achieved by Belgium after nine years.”

“Potentially, the increase in numbers and rate means there could be an increase in the pressure being put on people who do not want to participate,” Murphy told LifeSiteNews, referring to health personnel.

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The data also show that there were more requests for euthanasia in two Montreal reporting agencies than any other in the province. “It could be the kind of health problems that are treated at the hospitals there,” said Murphy. As for euthanasia requests granted, Quebec City has the province’s highest rate: 12 per 100,000 of population, or 90 in all over the years. There are other wide variations from region to region, and hospital to hospital.

Murphy told LifeSite News that the statistics raised “important questions about the reasons for such variations or trends,” such as possible differences in the quality or accessibility of palliative care or the nature of patient illnesses.

The Protection of Conscience Project usually looks at what provisions there are in different provinces for protecting the consciences of health workers who morally oppose medical procedures such as abortion, contraception and euthanasia.

Correction: LifeSiteNews regrets errors in reporting Sean Murphy’s analysis in our original story. This is a corrected version.

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