Montreal Euthanasia Symposium: Theory and Reality about Euthanasia

Media Release - October 30, 2015

The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, the Living with Dignity network and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) are coming together for a one day conference on Saturday October 31, 2015 at the Best Western Ville Marie hotel in Montréal, to discuss our common concerns and directions.

The Quebec euthanasia experiment is scheduled to begin on December 10. The vast majorityof physicians around the world have always rejected euthanasia, above all because it is a public safety hazard: it can drive people to throw away years of their lives and provide caregivers and heirs with enormous power. Although it gives an illusion of control, the option of euthanasia will undoubtedly erode medical diligence and creativity in the medical care of people both chronically disabled and acutely disabled by illness.  

Most patients fear suffering at the end of life. This has always been the case. But we must find a less dangerous option than the constant availability of “death on demand” to address these fears. In extreme cases, i.e. for the small minority of patients for whom other options are not completely effective, palliative sedation can answer all symptom control problems.

Quebec has the only law in the world which attempts to coerce doctors to refer patients for euthanasia. Such pointless authoritarianism, of which we already had a taste in September, is a dangerous precedent which must be formally rejected.   

From a logistical point of view patients do not need help from their treating physician to access euthanasia: the government could easily set up a system of self-referral to voluntarily licensed doctors who are willing to practice euthanasia. This would avoid trampling on the professional judgment and conscience of the rest of the medical profession. 

We reject the concept that euthanasia is any kind of health care. We reject bullying physicians into referring their patients for death. And we reject the concept that intentional death is a solution to human distress.

Dr Catherine Ferrier – President, Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia (514) 623-5737
Dr Will Johnston – Chair, EPC - BC (604) 220-2042
Dr Margaret Cottle – Vice President, EPC (604) 222-0288
Dr Marc Beauchamp – President, Living with Dignity Network.
Alex Schadenberg - Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (519) 851-1434

Assisted suicide and euthanasia: political parties are fleeing their responsibilities

The election campaign is moving ahead and politicians are firing out their promises. Yet despite their life or death implication for all Canadians, the issues of assisted suicide and euthanasia remain taboo! The next government will have as a first duty the enormous responsibility of passing a law to regulate assisted suicide in time for the Supreme Court’s February 6, 2016 deadline.

Moreover, the aggressive reaction of Quebec politicians against palliative care professionals who refuse to kill people under their care announces a serious danger for all of Canada. This attack on freedom strongly suggests that the "right to die" will inevitably become an obligation to kill if we do not take all legislative precautions to avoid it.

We recognize that the wording of laws and regulations will either enable or discourage misuse of assisted suicide or euthanasia. However, it is well known that no safeguards can entirely prevent the deaths of ineligible and non-consenting people. The data from a recent study in Belgium, where euthanasia is legal, found that 1.7% of all deaths were intentionally hastened without request and people with depression and cognitive disorders are dying by euthanasia. The new Canadian government must use all means available to prevent such tragedies.

Faced with the silence of the political parties, the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), the EPC – BC, and Living with Dignity are adding their voice to those calling for a clear position with firm commitments from all political parties before the end of the election campaign so that Canadians can make an informed choice.

Together, we ask that all political parties publicly commit themselves to enact legislation and implement regulations which:

• protect vulnerable citizens from inducement to suicide, including people with physical and intellectual disabilities, those with mental illness, loss of autonomy or advanced chronic disease, and those at the end of life; 
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• improve the quality and accessibility of palliative care for all Canadians, for there is no true free and informed consent to death if the patient is not aware of, or has no access to, the alternatives; 
• uphold freedom of conscience for caregivers in all health care environments by preventing any form of coercion and pressure to participate in the killing of persons under their care.

It would be a serious injustice to Canadians to leave unaddressed such fundamental issues for the future of our society. Canadians have the right to know how our elderly, disabled and terminally ill citizens will be treated after the federal election of October 19.

For more information contact:

Quebec trying to force physician participation in euthanasia

Urgent: we must support our palliative care colleagues

Last week, Dr. Barrette raised the spectre of suspension for physician members of (palliative care) services not wishing to offer euthanasia in hospital. Mr. Ménard, architect of Bill 52, even presses the government to cut subsidies to all palliative care centres in Quebec because they have all decided not to offer euthanasia within their walls, a decision clearly permitted by Bill 52!

Who will bear the brunt of such abuses of power? Terminally ill patients, of course, whose doctor will be suspended or whose palliative care centre will have decreased its services for lack of money. A big mess in perspective.

The population must be aware that these ideologues are about to severely damage, if not ruin, our palliative care network.

We ask all our members to come to the defense of palliative care providers who are currently the target of a true campaign of intimidation that will only increase in the coming months if we do not speak out.

Write massively to the opinion pages of Quebec newspapers and to medical magazines: you will find a list of email addresses to forums and other opinion pages at the bottom of this email.

Speak to politicians and health care administrators in your area.

Link to the full article
 

Euthanasia Symposium 2015

The Euthanasia Symposium 2015 is in Montreal at the Best Western - Ville Marie Hotel and Suites on October 31, 2015 from 9 am to 5 pm.

Book your room at the hotel for $119 single or $149 double by calling: 1-800-361-7791.

The Euthanasia Symposium 2015 is an event of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, the Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia and the Living with Dignity.

Registration is only $50 and includes lunch and coffee breaks.

Speakers include:

  • Dr Balfour Mount: The father of palliative care in North America.
  • Dr Margaret Somerville: She will be speaking from her new book: Bird on an ethical wire.
  • Dr Margaret Cottle: Palliative care physician and Vice President of EPC.
  • Dr Will Johnston: Family Physician and Chair of EPC - BC.
  • Dr Patrick Vinay: Former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal.
  • Dr Catherine Ferrier: Geriatrician, President - Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia.
  • Amy Hasbrouck: Lawyer and Director of Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet Canada.
  • Nic Steenhout: Former Director of Living with Dignity Québec.
  • Albertos Polizogopoulos: Lawyer, who will be speaking on Physicians Conscience Rights.
  • Alex Schadenberg: Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
  • Hugh Scher: Legal Counsel - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
  • Jen Romnes: Will be sharing her story (book) about caring for her mother.

Register by contacting the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: 1-877-439-3348 or info@epcc.ca

Barbara Kay: Euthanasia is killing by doctors

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Barbara Kay

Barbara Kay

The National Post published an excellent article by Barbara Kay, one of Canada's most respected columnists, titled: Beware of euthanasia's friendly face.

Kay's article accomplishes two tasks: it properly defines the language and purpose of Bill 52, the Québec euthanasia bill that passed last June, and she reports on her experience at a dinner organized by the Physicians for Social Justice opposing Québec's euthanasia law, that was held in Montréal.

Kay points out that the Québec euthanasia law, that is scheduled to come into effect in December 2015, legalizes euthanasia and not assisted suicide.

Link to the full article

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition challenges Quebec euthanasia law

By Hugh Scher, Legal Counsel - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Hugh Scher

Hugh Scher

Québec’s landmark law allowing euthanasia contravenes Canadian criminal homicide laws and represents a dangerous step towards a patchwork quilt of provincial regulation of serious criminal conduct, which is why the issue must be handled federally, says Toronto health, human rights and constitutional lawyer Hugh Scher.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), represented by Scher, was granted leave to intervene in a constitutional challenge brought by the Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia and Vivre Dans La Dignite, Living With Dignity, against both the federal and Québec provincial governments arguing Québec’s law, which was adopted last summer and will go into effect in December 2015, is stepping on federal jurisdiction by undercutting sections of the Criminal Code that outlaw assisted suicide and euthanasia and by attempting to define the intentional killing of patients by doctors as healthcare.

The proposed safeguards in the law are discriminatory and violate ss. 7 and 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, says an affidavit filed by the Coalition.

“Any change to decriminalize euthanasia is properly the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada, as it is in its pith and substance a question of criminal law,” says the court document. “The federal law is and should be paramount in order to ensure certainty, universality and equal benefit and protection of the criminal law across Canada.”

Link to the full article.