Peter Baklinski

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‘Radical disaster’: Quebec pushes ahead with bill to allow doctors to kill their patients

Peter Baklinski

QUEBEC, June 13, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Quebec introduced a bill yesterday that would legalize euthanasia throughout the province as “medical aid in dying.”

Bill 52, tabled by the Marois government — titled An Act respecting end-of-life care — would allow those with “an incurable serious illness” to be killed by doctors.

Life and family leaders around the country have slammed the move as paving the way to abuse.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), called the proposed bill an “abandonment of people at the most vulnerable time of their life.”

“When euthanasia is legal, abuse will happen,” Schadenberg said. “In Belgium, where euthanasia was legalized in 2002, a recent study found that 32 percent of all assisted deaths were done without consent. Quebec’s proposed list of ‘safeguards’ mirror those within the Belgian legislation.”

“The Quebec government needs to withdraw its plan to legalize euthanasia through the back-door and to renew its commitment to improving end-of-life care and the care of other vulnerable citizens and to commit to prevention of elder abuse and the abuse of people with disabilities,” he said.

Constitutional lawyer and EPC legal counsel, Hugh Scher stated: “Euthanasia is a direct and intentional act to cause the death of another person. Euthanasia is not healthcare.”

Euthanasia is prohibited by the federal Criminal Code.

“This is a dangerous proposal that confuses medical care with intentional acts to take a patient’s life,” said Natalie Sonnen, executive director of LifeCanada. “The phrase ‘medical aid in dying’ is an unprecedented move to make euthanasia appear as a medical act so that the Quebec government can circumvent the Canadian Criminal Code.”

“This bill will challenge that status, and have a huge impact on the rest of the country,” LifeCanada stated in a press release.

The Physicians’ Alliance for Total Refusal of Euthanasia along with the Living with Dignity network “strongly condemn[ed]” the bill, saying that it would create a “so-called ‘right to die.’”

“It is dangerous, discriminatory and opposed to social justice. At a time when Quebecers are rightly concerned about the scourge of elder abuse, it would be very naïve to think that euthanasia, the ultimate abuse, will not become a growing threat to the most vulnerable,” said Dr. Marc Beauchamp of the Physicians’ Alliance.

Physicians’ Alliance called euthanasia in a press release “nothing less than killing a person intentionally and directly, for reasons of false compassion.”

Amy Hasbrouck, the leader of the disability rights group Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet stated: “People with disabilities, elderly people who are dependent on others, people living with chronic depression, among others, are medically vulnerable. Prohibiting euthanasia is an effective way to prevent the abuse of people with disabilities and elder abuse.”

The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) stated its “serious concerns” over the proposed legislation: “If this proposal becomes law, Quebec would be putting some of its most vulnerable citizens – the terminally ill, the frail, elderly, and the handicapped – in danger of being pressured to end their lives prematurely,” said Joanne McGarry, League executive director.

“Also of concern to the League, while this proposed legislation allows doctors to refuse to participate in euthanasia requests, it implies that they must participate in a process referring the request to a more willing provider. There appears to be no provision for the religious and conscientious rights of other members of the health care team,” CCRL stated in a press release.

American bioethics commentator Wesley Smith called the proposal a “radical disaster”.

“First, it would require that all ‘institutions,’ e.g., hospitals, nursing homes, and residential care facilities ‘provide’ terminal sedation (put into a coma and dehydrated to death) or euthanasia, which are included in the bill’s definition of the term, ‘end of life care,’” Smith said. “As I understand the Canadian system, all hospitals, nursing homes, etc., are publicly funded, part by the province and part by the federal government. This would appear to mean that every taxpayer in Canada will be underwriting euthanasia, and moreover, that the provincial government of Quebec will require the killing of patients to be allowed in all publicly funded hospitals, residential care facilities and nursing homes.”

Nearly 2,000 people converged on the Quebec capital last month to protest the government’s plan to legalize euthanasia  At one point during the event, protesters marched through the streets of Quebec City chanting “killing is not care”.

The law could go into effect as early as this fall. 

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