Advanced Request For Euthanasia?

This article was written by Dr Catherine Ferrier and published on June 10, 2016 by impact ethics in Canadian BioethicsDeath & Assisted DyingLaw & PolicyMental Health

Catherine Ferrier a physician in the Division of Geriatric Medicine of the McGill University Health Centre, and is the president of the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia.

The June 6 deadline for legislation in response to the Carter judgment has come and gone, and our government has yet to adopt a law regulating medical assistance in dying. Too few of us have any idea what we are rushing into.

In the Carter decision the Supreme Court judges stated that the risks associated with physician-assisted death can be limited through a carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards. In contrast, the pressure is on to offer death as a solution for all forms of suffering, available to virtually everyone, including those who fear future suffering or disability.

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs wants Bill C-14 amended to include the recommendation of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, “That the permission to use advance requests for medical assistance in dying be allowed any time after one is diagnosed with a condition that is reasonably likely to cause loss of competence or after a diagnosis of a grievous or irremediable condition but before the suffering becomes intolerable….”

I have spent the last 30 years diagnosing, treating, and caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It takes no special insight to realize that they are the principal intended “beneficiaries” of this recommendation.

Link to the full article

Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia - Sign the Declaration

Physicians: Sign the Declaration (English) (French)

Citizens: Support the Declaration (English) (French)

WE AFFIRM THAT:

1. Patients at the end of life should receive diligent and competent care to relieve their pain and suffering. The physician has the obligation to use all the means available to achieve this end.

2. If a patient refuses treatment or requests its withdrawal, his or her wishes must be respected.

3. Modern palliative care skills, drugs and technology permit adequate symptom control for all terminally ill patients. These methods should be universally accessible.

4. A physician who is caring for a dying patient, and who cannot adequately control the person’s symptoms, should have access to the necessary expertise and support to be able to do so.

5. When suffering remains uncontrolled by state-of-the-art palliative care, individually adjusted sedation to a point of comfort may be used. In this, as in all palliative care, the goal remains optimal quality of life.

6. To provoke death voluntarily, by lethal injection or any other method, cannot be considered under any circumstance as “medical care”, and is contrary to medical ethics. It is never necessary to kill a patient in order to end his or her suffering. The 2400-year-old Hippocratic tradition was a major advance in civilization. It forbids euthanasia and mandates the protection of the weak and the maintenance of trust between the physician and the patient. It calls on physicians and other health professionals to use their knowledge and skills to heal the sick, creating a climate of mutual solidarity. It is ironic that the accepted standards of this ancient code of conduct, written at a time when the means of countering end of life suffering were very limited, might be considered inadequate in this age of refined capacity to control symptoms.

7. We must learn from the negative experiences of countries that have legalized euthanasia. Decriminalization often causes more problems than it is claimed to solve; those documented in the medical and legal literature include:

  • High rates of euthanasia without consent;
  • The impossibility of ensuring adequate reporting and respect for safeguards;
  • A loss of trust in the physician-patient relationship;
  • Conflicts within medical teams and within patients’ families

8. Medical licensing bodies must continue to fulfil their role as protectors of the public and of life, and support physicians in their efforts to improve the quality and accessibility of care of the dying, thus allowing all patients to receive excellent symptom relief throughout their illness and at the time of death.

June 1 rally on parliament hill: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Are Not The Answer

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Are Not The Answer

Join the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, the Living with Dignity Network and the Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia for a demonstration on Parliament Hill on Wednesday June 1, 2016 (noon to 1:30 pm).

The Supreme Court of Canada imposed a June 6 deadline upon parliament to pass a bill to regulate euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. Parliament could follow the Supreme Court decision and still protect Canadians from euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Bill C-14 is a dangerous bill that does not protect vulnerable Canadians. Bill C-14 provides a perfect cover for murder.

EPC needs you to contact Members of Parliament

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights will be hearing interventions concerning Bill C-14, the bill that will legalize and “regulate” euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) will be presenting to the committee next week. We will be represented by: Amy Hasbrouck (EPC – VP), Hugh Scher (EPC – Legal Counsel) and Dr Will Johnston (Chair of EPC – BC). 

Several MP's have said that they are receiving more communication from members of the euthanasia lobby than from our supporters. 

EPC needs you to contact members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights with your concerns about Bill C-14.

Resources for your communicating with committee members:

Link to the article on Bill C-14 by Alex Schadenberg.
Link to the article on Bill C-14 by the Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia.
Link to the article on Bill C-14 by Dr Will Johnston (EPC - BC).
Link to the article on Bill C-14 by Charles Lewis.
Link to the article on Bill C-14 by Andrew Coyne.
Link to the article on Bill C-14 by Amy Hasbrouck (Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet).

Committee Chair: Anthony Housefather (Lib) - Anthony.Housefather@parl.gc.ca
Committee Vice Chair: Ted Falk (CPC) - Ted.Falk@parl.gc.ca
Committee Vice Chair: Murray Rankin (NDP) - Murray.Rankin@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Chris Bittle (Lib) - Chris.Bittle@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Michael Cooper (CPC) - Michael.Cooper@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Colin Fraser (Lib) - Colin.Fraser@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Ahmed Hussen (Lib) - Ahmed.Hussen@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Iqra Khalid (Lib) - Iqra.Khalid@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Ron McKinnon (Lib) - Ron.McKinnon@parl.gc.ca
Committee Member: Hon. Rob Nicholson (CPC) - rob.nicholson@parl.gc.ca

EPC also encourages you to send letters to your Members of Parliament. Link to contact your Member of Parliament.

You can mail letters to Members of Parliament (Postage Free) by sending letters to:

(Name) Member of Parliament
House of Commons
Ottawa Ontario K1A 0A6

Québec physicians group opposes referring patients for euthanasia

Scientific Objection to Dr. Yves Robert’s Editorial

[“Referring the patient’s request to a health care professional who would follow through with it would then seem the ultimate compromise, respecting patient’s and physician’s rights.”][1] Dr. Yves Robert, Le Collège, November 10, 2015

Dr Robert,

The above statement that you made as Secretary of the Collège des médecins du Québec is absolutely false.

First, let’s recall this excerpt, from of the Superior Court ruling (par. 97): “The lawyer of the Attorney General of Canada also expressed her concern about article 31 of an Act respecting end-of-life care, obliging physicians who do not want to grant a request for physician-assisted dying, to participate, despite their objection, in the process of finding a willing physician. She sees in this fact itself an indication that even a physician, conscientious objector, would inevitably become involved in a process leading to the commission of a criminal act under the current state of the law”.

This summarizes without ambiguity the thoughts of the Attorney General of Canada and the Quebec Superior Court concerning your “ultimate compromise” on the subject of conscientious objection, also shared by the Collège des médecins du Québec.

This form of collaboration in killing a patient, with all due respect, is not the ultimate compromise. It is an obligation to collaborate — which can be experienced by a physician as complicity in an act he considers to be harmful to his patient, irrelevant whether the act is criminal or not (the crime evoked here only compounds the insult of the obligation).

As for me, I want to continue to offer care to my patient; not sever the relationship. I simply refuse to cause his death. What will you do against my medical judgment?

If you suspend me, you are the one severing the care relationship by depriving a patient of his physician, whereas I am willing to continue caring for him. I do not consider sending my patient to be killed as providing care because… to be killed is not a treatment, neither for me, nor for the overwhelming majority of physicians and medical associations all over the world. This then is a question of medical obligation, because I apply the international norm, while the Collège has decided unilaterally to disagree.

Link to the full article

Medical aid in dying: the Quebec Court of Appeal judgment does not end the dispute

Today, the Quebec Court of Appeal declared that the Criminal Code provisions "that prohibit medical aid in dying cannot by themselves prevent the entry into force and implementation" of the provisions of the Act respecting end-of-life care related to medical aid in dying since they were declared invalid by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter decision (at para. 44). We take note of this decision but we still deplore this choice as an answer to end-of-life suffering.

It should be noted that the Appeal Court took care to mention that if the Federal Parliament "adopts a valid federal law on medical aid in dying that applies in Quebec, it will be necessary to review the provisions of the Act respecting end-of-life care related to medical aid in dying to determine if they are in conflict ... "(at para. 44).

Thus, the judgment of the Court of Appeal notes "that the respondents will be able to continue to challenge before the Superior Court the substantive constitutional validity of the provisions of the Act respecting end-of-life care related to medical aid in dying for the other reasons they raise in their amended originating motion "(at para. 45), in particular because it is a matter that falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament's criminal law.

The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia will continue to promote the quality and availability of good health care for all; we will continue our work to ensure the protection of human life, especially for people in vulnerable situations; we will continue our mission for the recognition of the dignity of all citizens of our country until natural death; and we will continue to defend the right of doctors and health care providers to refuse to practice medical aid in dying or to collaborate in any way. 

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition intervened in this case at the Québec Court of Appeal.

Panel recommends a 'dangerous approach' to regulating assisted suicide

Hugh Scher

Hugh Scher

This article was published by Advocate Daily on December 17, 2015

Recommendations in the report of the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying are an “irresponsible and dangerous approach” to the legalization and regulation of assisted suicide across Canada, says Toronto health, human rights and constitutional lawyer Hugh Scher.

The panel’s 43 recommendations, are a “startling display of a lack of informed understanding of the risks and harms associated with measures to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada,” says Scher. “They particularly reflect a complete lack of understanding of considerations such as vulnerability, depression and the requirement for fully informed decision-making based upon clear information and full options being presented to the patient.”

Among recommendations in the 134-page report that was received by federal health and justice ministers earlier this week, is that children 12 years of age or younger be eligible for assisted suicide or euthanasia,and included a series of options around euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The report comes while the Supreme Court of Canada is weighing the federal Liberals' request to delay the implementation of the court's decision in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5, which will be addressed by the top court at a hearing on January 11, 2016. The Feb. 6, 2015 ruling strikes down the country's Criminal Code ban on assisted suicide, but gave lawmakers 12 months to adopt new rules and to implement effective oversight and safeguards.

Scher represents the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, which acted as an intervener at all levels in Carter, and is also an intervener before the Quebec Court of Appeal in D'Amico, which is being heard tomorrow.

Link to the full article