Isabelle and Ward O'Connor of the Vivere Group offer questions to ponder about Quebec's new Euthanasia legislation.
1. Do euthanasia and palliative care go together?
The palliative care philosophy is based on respect for the natural process of death. Matching induced death by euthanasia ("medical aid in dying") with palliative care in a "continuum of end of life care" is it logical? Doing so risks creating conflict and confusion. This is the view of, among others, le Réseau de soins palliatifs du Québec (RSPQ), as recorded in its deposition regarding the subject legislation. The RSPQ affirms that "Euthanasia is not a treatment." Further, it is important to know that the Fédération du Mouvement Albatros of Québec (FMAQ) adopted unanimously a resolution in support of the RSPQ position.
2. Is End of Life Care Legislation valid?
It is important to know that induced death, either by euthanasia or assisted suicide, is a crime in Canada, although the authors and promoters of the legislation on end-of-life care categorically deny that "medical aid in dying" means "euthanasia", hoping that their semantic game will evade Canada’s Criminal Code. You should know that Canada’s Attorney General announced that he will challenge the
validity of this legislation, pending the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the case Carter-Taylor case heard October 5, 2014, with a decision expected within six months – i.e., no later than April 2015. The Carter-Taylor case challenges the validity of criminalizing death induced by euthanasia or assisted suicide.
3. Would government induced death jeopardize the right to personal security?
Consent and intent are difficult to prove, and the weak, vulnerable, disabled, elderly, depressed, illiterate or otherwise physically or mentally vulnerable are very easy to manipulate. Their consent can also be difficult to interpret. Substituted consent is another important issue, appearing in the Quebec law (Articles 47, 48, 55) as does presumed consent (Articles 57 and 58 ). The mistreatment of these large segments of the population, especially from relatives and institutions, being widely and well documented, as are discrimination and other social exclusionary pressures of exclusion, is such a precarious secure environment in our health care facilities acceptable?
The Quebec legislation in no way restricts euthanasia for people diagnosed with terminal illness. It is applicable to anyone with a chronic degenerative disease, whether that person is dying or not.
In addition, each year in Quebec, more than 350,000 medical errors are reported, the vast majority of which are injection errors (Ménard report). As euthanasia is done via an injection, do not the number of medical errors argue against the practice of euthanasia?
Finally, the end-of-life care legislation leaves it to the physician to ensure that consent to euthanasia is not the result of undue pressures arising from different sources. What training in psychology and police detection methods will the doctor receive for this purpose? What budget he will have to conduct the needed investigation? Abuse is both pernicious and very clever thing to detect for he seeks to detect it.