Quebec’s euthanasia proposal means 'active killing by doctors': leading bioethicist
QUEBEC, February 15, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – One of the top American bioethicists has slammed Quebec’s push to legalize euthanasia, saying it will turn doctors into killers and establish broad “categories of the killable” that will apply to practically anyone seeking death for any reason.
“Quebec wants to lead Canada off the moral cliff already leaped off of by Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland,” wrote Wesley J. Smith on his blog Human Exceptionalism last week.
Smith was reacting to Quebec’s Select Committee Dying With Dignity Report released last March.
The Committee refers to euthanasia as “medical aid in dying.” Bioethicists define euthanasia is an intentional act that causes someone’s death.
The Quebec Committee states in its report that the “medical aid” in dying “involves an act performed by a physician in a medical setting following a free and informed request made by the patient himself.”
Smith pointed out that “aid in dying” is simply a euphemism for “active killing by doctors.” He suggested that if the Committee’s recommendations are followed, then “every Quebec physician will be conscripted to participate in homicide as a condition of practicing medicine.”
“That would make every doctor in Quebec a potential accomplice in homicide,” he said.
The Committee states that a doctor who “refuses to provide medical aid in dying for reasons of conscience will have the duty to help his patient find another who is prepared to do so, as quickly as possible.” Smith pointed out that this means that no doctor would be spared from the overarching murderous implications of the committee’s proposal if it became law.
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“Think of it this way: If a hit man were approached by a man to kill his wife, but the murderer didn’t kill women, so instead, referred the husband to a killer he knew would kill females, the original killer would be complicit, indeed, an accomplice in the woman’s murder – even if he didn’t personally pull the trigger. That is akin to what the above recommendation would require of all doctors if it becomes law – forced participation in homicide.”
“No one should be forced to kill or participate in killing,” he said.
Smith also critiqued the Committee’s criteria for persons requesting “medical aid in dying.”
The Committee states that the person must suffer from a “serious, incurable disease,” must be in an “advanced state of weakening capacities, with no chance of improvement”, and must have “constant and unbearable physical or psychological suffering that cannot be eased under conditions he or she deems tolerable.”
Smith criticized the categories as being “broad and wide enough to drive a hearse through.”
“[D]iabetes could qualify in this definition, say, when the patient loses a foot or begins to have vision issues. MS would apply. Serious arthritis. HIV as it turns to AIDS, etc.”
“The ‘no chance of improvement’ criterion is also a misnomer in most cases, if literally applied. People often go into unexpected improvements of health even when they are unquestionably terminally ill,” he said.
Canadian criminal law currently prohibits euthanasia.
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition told LifeSiteNews.com that the Committee’s proposal for getting around current Federal law was to redefine euthanasia as a “medical treatment.” Euthanasia as a “medical treatment” would then fall under the jurisdiction of provincial healthcare laws.
“Because they can’t change the criminal law, they’re going to call euthanasia a ‘medical treatment’ and say it’s legal because it’s a ‘treatment.’”
“They’re changing the meaning of words to get a way with homicide,” he said.
For the sake of protecting the elderly and the vulnerable from abuse, both Smith and Schadenberg hope that Quebec will not go the way of Belgium, which legalized euthanasia in 2002 and now experiences rampant abuse in its system of administering death.
Smith hopes there are “enough people remaining in the French-speaking province who still believe in Hippocratic values and the intrinsic dignity of human life to hold the death agenda at bay.”
Schadenberg said that the “only way to effectively protect people is by maintaining euthanasia as an illegal act and ensuring the proper care of people with chronic or terminal conditions.”