NRL News

Quebec will officially extend euthanasia to include psychiatric conditions

by | Jan 24, 2020

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article by Sidhartha Banerjee for the Canadian Press reports that the Québec government has officially decided to extend euthanasia to people with mental illness. The article reports:

Health Minister Danielle McCann told a news conference Tuesday that people with mental health issues who aren’t responding to treatment would be able to ask for the procedure — but she stressed such cases would be exceptional.

Before euthanasia (MAID) was legalized in Canada, the Québec Health Minister predicted that there would be about 100 lethal injection deaths per year. In 2019 there were approximately 5,000 euthanasia deaths in Canada and there have been 13,000 since legalization.

The Québec College of Physicians is suggesting that euthanasia for mental conditions will be rare. Banerjee reported:

“We don’t expect many of these patients will qualify, because one of the other criteria that remains is to suffer from a disease that is not curable, which is not necessarily the case of all mental health situations,” said Dr. Yves Robert, the college’s secretary. “It will really be an individual, case-by-case decision that will be done.”

The decision of the Québec Health Minister is based on the September Québec lower court decision that struck down the “terminal illness” requirement in the euthanasia law. Since the law permits euthanasia for physical or psychological suffering, therefore removing the “terminal illness” requirement means people with psychological suffering, who are not terminally ill, would qualify for euthanasia.

Psychiatric professor Dr. Mark Komrad commented on the Québec decision by warning American psychiatrists of his concerns:

Every nation that legalized these procedures has gradually expanded the criteria, according to the dictates of cherished values like fairness, parity, and related values that make it very difficult to deny these procedures to those just beyond whatever line has been drawn. And so it creeps. We in the US, need to be prepared that this mission creep is our future with the growing metastases of assisted suicide laws in many states. In fact, it was both to signal to other nations, and to prepare here in the US for the slippery slope reaching our psychiatric patients, that we passed our APA position statement.

I just want to remind you of the official position of the American Psychiatric Association:

The American Psychiatric Association, in concert with the American Medical Association’s position on euthanasia, holds that a psychiatrist should not prescribe or administer any intervention to a non-terminally ill person for the purpose of causing death.

The only way to stop the expansion of assisted death in the United States and other countries is by not legalizing it in the first place.

The euthanasia floodgates have opened in Canada. Based on fairness and “equality” the control of euthanasia for psychiatric conditions will be porous at best. Doctors won’t deny euthanasia to one person when another person was lethally injected for the same or similar condition.

Canada’s euthanasia law is not designed to be controlled. The approval procedure is designed to protect physicians from any prospect of being prosecuted and it uses a self-reporting system, whereby a physician who approves the death, can be the physician who carries out the death, and then be the same physician who reports the death. This system offers no effective oversight of the law and no prospect for control.

The question is, how can we put the genie back in the bottle?

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Euthanasia