Groups opposing euthanasia warn Canadian government

Aubert Martin & Alex Schadenberg

Aubert Martin & Alex Schadenberg

On April 11, 2016; Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, and Aubert Martin executive director of Living with Dignity Québec, held a press conference in Ottawa to warn the federal government about abuse of the law before it introduces euthanasia legislation. QMI reported on the press conference by publishing an article by Guillaume St-Pierre.

The Quebec organization, Living with Dignity, warned the federal government, which is preparing to introduce a bill on medical help to die, against possible abuses. 
"After only four months since the start of the law that legalized euthanasia in Quebec, we are already witnessing the first slip," said the CEO of the organization during a press briefing in Ottawa on Monday, Aubert Martin. 
In early March, the Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ) had to issue an opinion in which he reminded members that attempted suicide is not a refusal of treatment. 
The warning served to rein in doctors who chose not to resuscitate patients who have tried to kill themselves by poisoning when they came to the emergency. 
This example demonstrates, according to Mr Martin, that the health system needs to "relieve, not kill." 
"From the beginning the play on words, calling medical assistance to die that is actually human euthanasia," he added. 
The Trudeau government is drafting future legislation governing medical help to die for people with severe and irreversible diseases. 
Parliament has until June 6 to pass the legislation giving effect to a judgment of the Supreme Court, which invalidated sections of the Criminal Code prohibiting euthanasia. 
However, the Quebec organization to live in dignity continues to oppose any form of supervision of what he still considers to be a "homicide". 
"We're talking about a law that will allow in certain circumstances, another person to kill or help to someone to kill oneself. Instead of promoting assisted suicide, the provincial and federal governments should work to improve palliative care," insisted Mr. Martin.

We expect that the euthanasia legislation will be introduced next week. 

Has euthanasia changed physician attitudes towards suicide in Québec?

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On December 10, 2015; the province of Québec officially sanctioned euthanasia. The Québec government passed Bill 52 in June 2014 and over the next 17 months prepared their nation for doctors having the right to kill their patients.

Now we learn that some Québec physicians have been withholding life-saving treatments that could save lives with possibly no after-effects from suicide victims. In response, the Québec's College of Physicians have issued an ethics bulletin telling all physicians that there is an ethical and legal guideline to provide care even to patients seeking to end their lives.

Yves Robert, the secretary for the Québec College of Physicians told the National Post that:

an unspecified number of doctors were interpreting suicide attempts as an implicit refusal of treatment. They “refused to provide the antidote that could have saved a life. This was the real ethical issue,” 
“If there is a life-threatening situation, you have to do whatever is possible to save a life, then you treat the underlying cause.”

According to the article by Graeme Hamilton, published in theNational Post, the four page ethics bulletin states:

“From a moral point of view, this duty to act to save the patient’s life, or to prevent him from living with the effects of a too-late intervention, rests on principles of doing good and not doing harm, as well as of solidarity,” 
“It would be negligent not to act.”

According to the National Post the ethics bulletin states that treatment can only be withheld when their is irrefutable proof that the patient does not want treatment. It then states:

Once stabilized, a survivor of suicide may require psychiatric treatment, the bulletin says. “Recognition of psychological suffering can allow a person who wants to kill himself to picture his life differently,”

But the Québec euthanasia law permits euthanasia for people with psychological suffering.

Is it possible that the confusion concerning the withholding of beneficial treatment is directly related to the legalization of euthanasia in Québec?

A survey of Québec doctors (April 2015) indicated that there is significant confusion concerning withholding and withdrawing treatment and an earlier survey of Québec medical specialists (October 2009) indicated that there was significant confusion concerning what constituted euthanasia and palliative care.

The fact is that the Québec euthanasia law insists that euthanasia is a medical act, which it is not, and that patients have the right to refuse treatment and autonomy. It should not shock people when Québec physicians respond to these edicts by medically abandoning suicidal patients.

Historically Québec has a very high suicide rate. In the past few years, suicide prevention programs have led to a decreased suicide rate. Let's hope that the legalization of euthanasia will not create a suicide contagion effect, leading to higher suicide rates in Québec.

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