This past Wednesday, June 12, 2013, the Quebec government tabled Bill 52 - "An Act respecting end-of-life care," legislation aimed at permitting euthanasia.
Not a law yet, it will debated this Fall for the purpose of becoming law.
In an effort to bring clarity to the discussion, within my own mind at least, I've come across a couple of good commentaries.
(To view the 20-page proposed legislation, learn about the stages of consideration, and leave a comment about the bill, visit the provincial website.)
First, the following points come from Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, appearing in a letter and then in a subsequent blog.
- Contrary to the comments by many media outlets and some media releases from prolife groups, Bill 52 does not authorize assisted suicide (Section 241 of the Criminal Code).
- Bill 52 legalizes euthanasia under the euphemism medical aid in dying. Euthanasia is a form of homicide. The difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide is: Euthanasia is an act whereby the physician or someone else causes your death (homicide) and Assisted suicide is an act whereby the physician or someone else provides the means (lethal dose) and you take it yourself (assisting a suicide).
- The bill is clear, the doctor administers, that means euthanasia. Assisted suicide is when the doctor prescribes.
- The supposed safeguards that the Quebec government have chosen are nearly identical to the current Belgian model.
- The Belgium model differs from the Netherlands model in the way it is administered and paid for. The Belgian model administers and pays for the act of euthanasia through its palliative care system. The Belgian model only authorizes euthanasia by physicians, but assisted suicide does occur sometimes.
- The Quebec government is defining euthanasia as a medical act, within the continuum of palliative care.
- The palliative care system may or may not accept euthanasia within Quebec, but it is being defined in that manner.
In the blog, his introductory note on why we should oppose the practice of euthanasia is well worth repeating. These are:
- No person, institution or government agency should be given the right or power to take the life of a human person.
- The power of one person, to cause the death of another person, will be abused. Human interaction often includes some level of abuse. In this circumstance the abuse results in the death of a human person.
- Discrimination exists towards identified groups of people or individuals. Legalizing euthanasia, for instance, threatens the lives of people with disabilities.
Regarding the second of these three points, Schadenberg cites in this blog several studies indicating as much in Belgium.
A second writer who provides commentary on different sections of the bill ist into the nitty-gritty of Bill 52 is Wesley Smith. He has written two pieces found here and here. In these two articles he examines sections - 3, 8, 26, and 29.
Once again, Bill 52 - "An Act respecting end-of-life care," may be viewed here.