NRL News

Quebec Death Doctors Don’t Like Being Told to Stay within the Law

by | Aug 10, 2023

By Wesley J. Smith

The pattern never changes. Euthanasia is legalized under the promise of “strict guidelines” preventing abuse. As time goes on, the strict guidelines are loosened, and then loosened again. Sometimes the process is slow and sometimes fast. But the direction is all one way.

In addition to that, doctors may assist the suicides or lethally inject patients who do not technically qualify for hastened death. Little, if anything, is done about it.

In the Netherlands, such cases have never resulted in meaningful punishment. Ever. Rather, they have been winked at by the authorities, or if prosecuted (rarely), the courts never punished the offender meaningfully.

After that, the “violation” may become the impetus for further loosening the “strict guidelines” — as in the Dutch doctor who put down her struggling dementia patient fighting to stay alive by having her family hold her while administering the lethal jab. The doctor was found not guilty in court, complimented by the judge for her good intentions, and the law was then changed to allow doctors to decide when to kill in such cases.

Now, add this to the mix: If authorities — ever so gently — try to enforce the rules, euthanasia advocates and medical associations warn that it will chill doctors from dispatching patients. We’ve seen that pattern followed repeatedly in Netherlands — and now in Quebec, where authorities asked doctors to please, please, please, stay within the law, which is very loose already. From the CBC story:

The memo reminds doctors of several guidelines, including that requests due to old age do not meet provincial criteria for the procedure, and an independent opinion from a second doctor isn’t a formality — it’s a requirement. Bureau said any deviation from the rules can be a slippery slope, especially as the commission is seeing an increasing number of requests for MAID.

It’s just too ridiculous. The slippery slope is already slip-sliding away. This is precisely how it works.

Even that gentle reminder was too much for death doctor activists:

However, Georges L’Espérance, a neurosurgeon and the president of the Quebec Association for the Right to Die in Dignity, says the numbers are going up because of the increased understanding that MAID is an option.

He criticizes the memo, saying it might stigmatize the procedure or even dissuade some doctors from providing it.

“The problem is that many doctors will be intimidated by that kind of memo,” he said. “They will say that they don’t want to [administer] any MAID because they have fear.”

So predictable. Some doctors won’t stay within the law. They are rarely caught and will not face discipline or meaningful punishment if they are. And the law will be further loosened as time goes on. Repeat, and repeat again.

Editor’s note. Wesley’s great columns appear at National Review Online and are reposted with his permission. Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.

Categories: Euthanasia