Québec: 50 euthanasia deaths in 5 months. No new commitment to palliative care.

Amy Hasbrouck

Amy Hasbrouck

This story is written by Amy Hasbrouck. It includes quotes and sections translated from that an article by Davide Gentile of Radio Canada that appeared in the Huffington Post online on May 4, 2016. Link to the original article.

Amy Hasbrouck - is a lawyer and the founder of the disability rights group Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet and is the EPC Vice President.

Five months after Québec’s euthanasia law went into effect, about fifty people have been euthanized according to health Minister Gaetan Barrette, according to an article by Radio Canada that appeared in the Huffington Post website. 

Health Minister Barrette said the rate is normal. "Many people were waiting for the implementation of the law," said Gaétan Barrette. "I do not think we are headed to unbridled growth," he said.

Some doctors who work in palliative care are concerned that more emphasis has been placed on the roll-out of the euthanasia program than toward providing palliative care. 

"We do not feel the same mobilization to increase access to palliative care," says Christiane Martel, president of the Quebec Society for Palliative Care. "The majority of people still want to just comfort care at end of life."

Martel recalls that access to quality palliative care was the primary objective of the Act concerning the end of life care adopted in June of 2014. 

"In palliative care, we do not see much improvement in resources. But we see a lot of resource mobilization for medical help to die."

Dr. Martel is concerned that meagre hospice care in some regions will affect the number of requests for euthanasia. "I think we must ensure that no one requests medical help to die because we did not have the proper care," she said.

Martel’s colleague Marjorie Tremblay believes that there is a serious problem. 

"What I see in my field every day are patients who don’t have palliative care in their area. I find it appalling!"

She believes that patients whose pain is relieved overwhelmingly reject medical help to die.

She believes Québec should develop an information campaign on palliative care. "Have you seen palliative care promoted since the implementation of the law? I have not even heard the term ‘palliative care’!"

Tremblay also deplores the confusion among some people between physician assisted dying and palliative care; they simply want to avoid suffering in the dying process. "Some people are afraid they will be given the lethal injection if they come into palliative care,” she said.

Health minister Barrette believes their findings are exaggerated. "I do not think people say, ”If I don’t get a palliative care bed, I will ask for medical help to die!" I am convinced that it does not happen," insists Barrette.

He says that with few exceptions, the number of palliative care beds in institutions is sufficient. Improvements need to be made, for example, in the Shawinigan area and in eastern Montreal.

However, the minister admitted that home-based palliative care services must be improved. Currently, about 11% of Quebecers end their days at home. Quebec wants this number to increase to 22% within 5 years.

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. 

For the Sake of Families Please Do Not Go Down Canada’s Dark Road of Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide

Open letter to Governor Hassan of New Hampshire – From Dr Paul Saba

Dr Paul Saba

Dr Paul Saba

As the state of New Hampshire considers establishing an end-of-life choices study commission, I strongly advise against this. This will only lead down the same dark road that Canada has travelled. Although in the United States euthanasia and physician assisted suicide falls under state jurisdiction, in Canada this falls under both Federal and Provincial jurisdictions.

Presently, Canada is proposing doctor assisted suicide and euthanasia of its most vulnerable citizens including children who are “mature minors” and the depressed.

Children possibly as young as 11 or 12 could see their lives ended prematurely without parental consent or prior notification. The serious consequences of enacting such a provision is illustrated by the case of Nadine (Video Link). At 14 years old, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. She underwent multiple chemotherapies and a failed bone marrow transplant. She was told that she had little chance to survive. She states that without the loving support of her family, she would have given up. Today at 19 she is well and happy to be alive.

History has taught us that killing the weak and vulnerable is a formula for disaster. The Romans encouraged the weak, sick and depressed to kill themselves. In 1938, Germany started euthanizing handicapped children. Today, Belgium and the Netherlands euthanize children, the depressed and those tired of life. 

As a physician with dual USA and Canada citizenship, I have studied and practiced medicine in both countries. I presently live in Montreal. As President and Founder of the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice my progressive ideas have included promoting quality medical care for the poor, incapacitated, the elderly and the young. However, I do not consider euthanasia and doctor assisted suicide as progressive. Presently in the province of Quebec many citizens have already been euthanized under a cloud of government controlled secrecy despite a requirement of an oversight committee. 

Link to the full article

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.

Euthanasia for depression to be debated in Canada

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Tara Brousseau-Snider

Tara Brousseau-Snider

Canada's parliament will soon debate whether to euthanasia should be permitted for psychological suffering. 

The Supreme Court of Canada, on February 6, struck down Canada's assisted suicide lawand used language that permits euthanasia. The Supreme Court did not define the terminology but it stated that an assisted death could be permitted for someone who has irremediable pain caused by physical orpsychological suffering.

CBC Manitoba reported on an unnamed Winnipeg woman who pushing the issue by requesting a euthanasia based on psychological suffering. Tara Brousseau-Snider, executive director of the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba stated that woman who wants euthanasia said: "If it was in place, they'd apply for it."

Brousseau-Snide told CBC Manitoba that she is concerned about a law permitting euthanasia for depressed people.

Link to the full article

Lewis: Challenging religious leaders to do more

Cardinal von Galen fought the    Nazi euthanasia program.

Cardinal von Galen fought the
Nazi euthanasia program.

This article is the opinion of Charlie Lewis.

Our religious leaders are missing something. I might dare to say they are failing. They are forgetting that shouting is needed in the midst of a disaster. It is sometimes the only solution when no one seems to be listening.

We are now in the home stretch of attempting to keep euthanasia illegal, which given the indications is not likely. Nor will it end if we lose. There will be much work to be done to make euthanasia irrelevant. But that will come later.

For now, Quebec has already put the needle in at least one person's arm. They killed a patient even though our Criminal Code says it is illegal. Instead our federal government, under both Harper and now Trudeau, coming down like a ton of bricks on Quebec they have remained silent. 

Let me correct that. Harper remained silent but Trudeau has been encouraging, essentially saying to the Quebec's pro-euthanasia ghouls that we support your right to murder.

So now is the time for the yelling to start. Now is the time for an uncompromising reaction to what is surely the most indecent thing our country will have ever done.

Link to the full article

The Supreme Court of Canada gave a four month extension, it exempted Québec and it granted Superior Court judges the right to approve deaths

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court struck down Canada's assisted suicide law and it employed language that permits euthanasia in its irresponsible and dangerous decision. The Supreme Court gave parliament 12 months to legislate on the issues.

On January 11, 2016 the Supreme Court heard a request from the Federal government for a six month extension to legislate on euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. The Federal government suggested that Québec should be exempted from the extension to allow them to institute their own euthanasia law.

Today the Supreme Court decided to grant the Federal government a four month extension to legislate on the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide, they agreed to exempt Québec from the extension and based on national "fairness" they have enabled Canadians to petition the Superior Court for approval to die by lethal injection. If governments do not legislate on the issues within four months, Canada's assisted suicide law (Section 241b) will be null and void leaving no protection in law for Canadians.

Link to the full article