NRL News

Quebec Euthanasia: Be careful what you wish for!

by | Jan 31, 2013

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg3The Quebec government appears intent on legalizing euthanasia, that they refer to as “assisted death” by defining euthanasia as a form of healthcare.

When analyzing the Quebec Dying with Dignity report and the proposals by the recent Menard report, it appears that Quebec is planning to implement a euthanasia law that mirrors the Belgian law.

Euthanasia is the intentional causing of death, whereby the death occurs directly from that act. Euthanasia has always been defined as part of the Homicide Act in the Criminal Code because, whatever the motive is, euthanasia is an act of killing.

How can killing be defined as a form of healthcare?

By defining euthanasia as a healthcare, access to euthanasia will inevitably be extended to everyone, because everyone is provided given equal access to healthcare. People who want to increase access to euthanasia, in the near future, will employ the equality provision in the Canada’s Charter of Rights to convince the courts to logically extend euthanasia. The Quebec government seems to have intentionally defined euthanasia as medical treatment in order to introduce it in a limited form and then let the courts extend it to nearly everyone.

It should concern people that Quebec has chosen to mirror the Belgium euthanasia law. Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 and research has found significant abuse primarily related to the imprecise and wide-open definitions that the Belgium law uses.

Three recent studies from the Flanders region of Belgium found that:

1. 32% of all euthanasia deaths were done without explicit request.

2. 47% of all euthanasia deaths were not reported as euthanasia.

3. Nurses are euthanizing their patients, even though the Belgium law limits the act of euthanasia to doctors.

It is important to note, that even though independent studies have found significant abuses of the Belgium euthanasia law are occurring, not one doctor has been prosecuted in Belgium.

Now the Belgium government is considering changing the euthanasia law to include children and people with dementia/Alzheimer’s. This would once again widen the definitions of who qualifies for euthanasia.

Considering the concerns in Quebec related to the cost containment of healthcare and the concern with medical errors, is it not likely that Quebec will follow the lead of Belgium?

The only way to effectively protect people is by maintaining euthanasia as an illegal act and ensuring the proper care of people with chronic or terminal conditions.

Be careful what you wish for it may become something that you didn’t wish for.

Editor’s note. This first appeared on Alex Schadenberg’s blog.

Categories: Euthanasia