Quebec’s ‘medical aid in dying’ bill will allow child euthanasia: Coalition of doctors
MONTREAL, December 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A coalition of Quebec doctors has issued a warning that the Quebec government's proposed "medical aid in dying" legislation, known as Bill 52, opens the door for euthanizing children.
"Québec's controversial bill on euthanasia does not limit its reach to the terminally ill," says Dr. Paul Saba, President of the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice. "If the bill is adopted, in addition to opening the door to offering euthanasia as an option for those not in the terminal phase of an illness, the door will be wide open to euthanize children and persons who are not able to give consent."
Dr. Saba pointed to the Quebec Human Rights Commission’s legal brief on the bill, which it submitted on September 20th and was adopted by formal resolution in the National Assembly.
In the brief, the Commission asked legislators to “open the possibility of using medical aid in dying to minors, through the development of appropriate mechanisms of consent."
Further, the brief asked legislators to allow “medical aid in dying” to those who are “unable to consent to care.”
Despite provisions for "the development of appropriate consent mechanisms" in the Commission’s recommendations, the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice points out that legislated safeguards in countries that have legalized euthanasia are routinely abused or ignored.
"Experience shows that safeguards and controls do not work in countries and U.S. states where euthanasia and assisted suicide is practiced,” they state in a press release. “There are hundreds of cases of people who do not give consent. Bill 52 will enable and encourage people, including the young, with physical illness such as cancer or psychological problems such as depression, to abandon medical treatment that could otherwise save their lives, and be euthanized instead."
In the Commission's opinion, as written Bill 52 could be deemed discriminatory against children, as well as persons who are unable to provide consent and persons who are not resident of Québec.
"Québec will soon be going along the same slippery road as the Netherlands, whose laws now allow euthanasia for children," said Dr. Saba, "and Belgium, where the draft law was adopted by one of the two legislative chambers and is in the process of being adopted by the other. This could include children below the age of 14 years as well as infants, and children 14 years or over who may be considered as emancipated."
Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition pointed out that the age of consent for medical treatment without parental approval in Quebec is already 14, so if the Quebec government redefines euthanasia as medical treatment, then a 14-year-old child could, under the proposed legislation, be legally euthanized without the parents even knowing about it.
"You can't call it medical treatment, and you can't define the age of consent to be 14, and then deny the medical treatment to 14-year-olds," Schadenberg said. "So, if not at first, then certainly soon after, euthanasia would be extended to teenagers."
"Dr. Saba's warning of the dangers inherent in Bill 52 is essentially correct," Schadenberg told LifeSiteNews, "because the bill is based on the same loose criteria and definitions as the Belgian euthanasia law."
Schadenberg cited Belgian euthanasia cases that prove the definitions are wide open enough to include nearly every situation. "Recent cases of depressed people, people who are going blind and a person with psychological pain after being sexually abused, prove how far the Belgian euthanasia law has gone," he said.
"Based on that, we can surmise that Bill 52 is not safe," Schadenberg said. "If you oppose euthanasia, this bill will not protect you from a doctor who is pro-euthanasia."
At a press conference held on December 1, the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice revealed that it is presenting an official complaint and request for intervention that Bill 52 be declared unconstitutional to the Attorney General of Canada.
"The Government and the Human Rights Commission should be protecting these people and ensuring their safety and the right to life, and not suggest or allow they be euthanized. They are in fact acting contrary to the spirit and essence of charter rights. This is a systemic impeachment of human life which must be prevented. It is also reverse thinking, devoid of reason, and will have devastating consequences," the Coalition's statement said.
Dr. Sylvia Baribeau, who gave a presentation at the press conference, questioned the basis for the proposed euthanasia legislation.
"Is this the future we want to give our children who are faced with illness or health challenges in the future—the right to be euthanized?" she asked. "What would you tell the grieving mother of her 14 year old daughter who was euthanized unbeknownst to her family according to criteria set out by the Human Rights Commission and the Quebec government? That the protocol was followed and that it was her daughter's right to be killed by a doctor because that is the law? How would you feel if your children were euthanized without you knowing? Where are we going? Don't we have more care and compassion than that?"
"Our government is supposed to protect the children. This is not the type of medical care that doctors want to provide. Charter rights are there to protect the vulnerable, and this is why Quebec's euthanasia law needs to be challenged constitutionally since it does not embrace that principle," concluded Dr. Saba. He added that the Coalition’s position against euthanasia is supported by the World Medical Association, which represents nine million physicians.