Cross posted from Alex Schadenberg's Blog:
Montreal, June 5, 2014 - Dramatic day for Quebec today: by a vote of 94 to 22, the Members of the National Assembly have adopted Bill 52, "An Act respecting end-of-life care". The citizen network Living with Dignity (LWD) denounces the new law, which allows anyone who meets the criteria to request and obtain death on demand by a doctor. Our elected representatives from all parties have failed in their duty to protect the most vulnerable and lifted a ban that has existed since the time of Hippocrates - more than 24 centuries ago– and which is the foundation of medicine and of life in society that is respectful of others.
Now, in Quebec, the act of a doctor who kills a person at his request to end his suffering, instead of relieving the suffering, will be considered health care. Moreover, "medical aid in dying ", as the law calls it, must be offered without exception by all public institutions in Quebec - hospitals, long-term care centres, CLSCs - regardless of the convictions of the management or staff of the institution.
With some exceptions, our elected officials have also chosen to ignore that Quebec does not have jurisdiction to decriminalize euthanasia. Killing a patient, even at his or her request, is not a medical treatment; it is a homicide and, as such, prohibited by the Criminal Code.
When engineers warn us that a bridge is unsafe, we hurry to prohibit traffic on that bridge. Why, then, choose to ignore - in contempt of the most vulnerable in our society - experts like Dr. Balfour Mount, a Montrealer awarded l'Ordre national du Québec for his pioneering work in palliative care in North America, and like Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche and also awarded l'Ordre national du Québec? Both have warned us: Do not do this, do not allow euthanasia. You will destroy what we have built. Euthanasia is an injury, a crime; a truly human society is recognized by the place it gives to its weakest members.
Quebec does not need this culture of death, but rather a culture of life. The Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms proclaims loud and clear: "all human beings are equal in worth and dignity,", and "Every human being has a right to life, and to personal security, inviolability and freedom."
LWD will continue its educational work to defend the inherent and inalienable dignity of each person until his or her natural death. For this reason LWD will always support, without reservation, the fundamental right of every patient to refuse medical care at end of life, especially when such care imposes a disproportionate burden for the patient, compared to the benefits he or she would receive from it. LWD will also continue to promote palliative care, the only truly human response to the suffering of a dying person, which confirms his or her value and helps give meaning to life's ultimate challenge.
LWD will also continue its fight against the legalization of euthanasia in Quebec by all means at our disposal, including the courts.
Sources : Citizen network Living With Dignity. Follow us on Twitter @vivredignite
For further information, or to organise an interview, please contact:
Director general - Living With Dignity
NB: There remains the possibility that the Canadian National Government could move to overturn this decision.