Doctor-Assisted Suicide Is Officially Legal in Quebec


mentalfloss
+1
#1
Doctor-Assisted Suicide Is Officially Legal in Quebec

On June 5, the province of Quebec adopted the controversial Bill 52, also known as the “end-of-life-care bill,” which would legally permit doctors to actively participate in the death of terminally ill patients suffering from physical or psychological pain. This came after a vote of 94-22 in the National Assembly, effectively making it law, and will take somewhere between 12 and 18 months to implement. So while it’s clear this is historic for Quebec, there remains an understandably charged debate amongst physicians, legislators, and citizens.

Euthanasia laws aren’t exactly a new concept. It’s legal in Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium (even for children). Physician assisted suicide (PAS) is also legal in several countries like Albania, Germany, Switzerland, and four US states: Oregon, Washington, Montana, and New Mexico. The distinction with PAS is that the doctor does not actually perform the action. It’s akin to your doctor handing you a lethal dose of morphine and looking the other way.

Euthanasia, on the other hand, requires a physician to be present, perform the procedure, and ensure everything runs smoothly, thus incorporating them into the process. Quebec would allow doctors to do the deed, but according to Quebec lawmakers it’s not euthanasia, per se.

“Medical aid in dying refers to the fact that it is always in a medical context and in the form of aid asked by the person,” Veronique Hivon, a member of the National Assembly who coauthored and cosponsored the bill, told VICE. “The term euthanasia does not imply that it only comes as a request.”

In Belgium, euthanasia is legal, and if poor old aunt Susan is on a whole set of machines and incapacitated, the family can make the decision on her behalf. What’s unique about the Quebec bill, according its authors, is that that wouldn’t be allowed to happen, as the request must come from the patients themselves. "Nobody can ask for it except the person," Hivon said.

In fact, there’s a whole set of similar ironclad restrictions and qualifications you have to meet if you want to get government-sanctioned suicide, which are outlined in section 26 of the law. For example, you must meet the legal age limit, you have to be capable of giving consent, you have to suffer from an incurable serious illness, it must be in an advanced state of irreversible decline, and you have to suffer from “constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain which cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable.” According to Hivon, the patient would also need a second independent medical opinion and—like everything else related to government—they need to fill out a form. This form can be filled out by a third party if you’re physically incapable but mentally cognizant.

These safeguards bring reassurance to proponents, but to critics they give faulty justification to a procedure they feel has no place in medicine. “It’s just not good for society to have people who are legally allowed to kill other people,” Dr. Catherine Ferrier, the president of the Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia, tells me. For her, the issue centres on defending those most vulnerable, and laws of this kind not only endanger them, but also are inspired by fear and apprehension rather than compassion. “Euthanasia is driven by a fear of the whole dying process. How do you respond to fear? You try and control it, but you lose a lot by doing that; it’s not something you can cut off and not have repercussions.”



Image via Flickr user armymedicine.
Dr. Derryck Smith is a clinical emeritus professor of psychology at the University of British Colombia, and a board member of Dying with Dignity, a member-based charity focused on education and support for the choice-in-dying-movement. He interprets the bill as “a humane piece of legislation that alleviates endless suffering at the end of life.” He points to Dr. Donald Low, a Toronto physician who stated his case via YouTube for sensible euthanasia legislation only eight days before he eventually succumbed to a brain tumor. He also notes that these are tested waters, “It mirrors legislation that is in place in Belgium and Oregon, etc," Smith says. It’s nothing new, and it’s going to give Quebecers assistance in dying when they’re in the ravages of pain.”

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Ferrier’s opinion is the one most present in the Canadian medical community. A survey by the Canadian Medical Association found that a clear majority—44 percent—would refuse to assist a death compared to only 16 percent who said they would participate. While the bill itself is supported by a majority in the National Assembly and by the general public, the sentiment is not shared by those on the front lines.

“For many people who answer, they answer that they want it, and it’s because they or someone they know has had a bad experience,” Ferrier says. “Their care wasn’t managed properly, so they are afraid. They say ‘I’d rather be dead than go through what my aunt went through.’ We should improve care, and it’s foolish to jump to killing people.”

When asked why physicians would support the bill, Ferrier cited her personal experience, “The further you get from the dying the more likely you are to support it. If you’re in radiology you may support it, but those working close to the elderly and dying overwhelmingly reject it." Ferrier’s claims are indeed supported by statements from those in palliative care.

While medical practitioners may oppose the law, that doesn’t seem to bother supporters in the least. According to Smith, change rarely comes from medical professionals; it’s the public and elected officials acting on their behalf that alter the zeitgeist. “Physicians are nervous,” he says. "They have not yet been trained in how to deal with a request to die, or the actual procedure itself. Over time, more and more physicians will become more comfortable with it. The same thing happened with abortion. It was public pressure that brought that into the fold and not the leadership of the medical community.”



Image via Flickr user consumerist.
So public pressure may be enough, but what about dignity? For many people, this debate is less about whether it’s morally right or wrong, but about having the freedom to make an informed choice about how you die. To some, the notion of being at the mercy of the medical process and consumed with bureaucracy without a prospect of a peaceful and controlled exit sounds horrifying and undignified. Smith looks at dignity as synonymous with autonomy and individual choice. In this case, it comes from your capacity to dictate the terms of your demise, and being unable to do so is what’s undignified.

“Dignity means you are in charge of your own death at a time of your own choosing. It’s an issue of autonomy, and of being able to choose. The problem is that choice is unavailable. After all, if you were given the choice most would choose to die in their own homes surrounded by loved ones. But that’s something that’s afforded to very few people.”

Yet that’s not how critics of the law understand dignity. Many of us are going to age differently, and some of us may slip gradually into senility, or our mind may remain lucid while our bodies deteriorate. Either way, it’s inevitable that we’ll become more dependent on others. So perhaps we shouldn’t equate independence with dignity, and conversely, dependence on others as undignified. If we conclude that those who are dependent on others are undignified, what does that say about those medically disabled and living life to the fullest? As Dr. Ferrier points out, “If someone is dependent on someone else, that doesn’t mean they have less dignity. The notion that you have less dignity when you are sick and dying is a false understanding of what dignity is.”

One thing both sides can agree on is the need for more palliative care. It’s a large field with increasingly more physicians specializing in alleviating pain, keeping patients comfortable, and easing discomfort at the end of life. The practice itself was brought to North America in the 1970s by Dr. Balfour Mount, a Canadian physician, who remains vehemently opposed to euthanasia. Alarmingly, the current percentage of Canadians that have access to this type of care is about 16-30 percent. As Ferrier puts it, “we should focus on improving this type of care. Poor management at the end of someone’s life is what’s causing this push towards euthanasia.” But Smith cautions that universal access to palliative care is a long way off, “Everyone wants more palliative care, and I support palliative care. But we can’t wait for everyone to have palliative care before we get this legislation because we’ll never get it. It’ll take forever.”

Going forward, countries all over the world must cope with aging baby-boomers. So we’re left with difficult choices about how to offer dignity when we’re unsure what it means, or how to provide a semblance of personal choice to someone who may be incapable of thinking clearly. Confronting death head-on for yourself and your loved ones is a long and arduous procedure. At this rate, it’s possible you could have something similar to “medical aid in dying” on your deathbed. Just be sure to hand in all your forms in triplicate, dot your I's and cross your T's before you do check out.

Doctor-Assisted Suicide Is Officially Legal in Quebec | VICE (external - login to view)
 
Nuggler
+4
#2
........Great law. Seriously.

If the borders are still open and I get a terminal illness, I'm a headin over.

Will they kill ya if ya can't speak French..................Refusal would be the ultimate irony.
 
mentalfloss
#3
I'm pretty sure they would only reject Albertans.
 
talloola
No Party Affiliation
+6
#4  Top Rated Post
i couldn't read the whole article, too long, all i have to say is, when someone wants to end their own
life, when they are dieing anyway SHOULDN'T be called suicide, it should have a different name, to
take away the stigma and negative reaction, and give it a more gentle loving title, as the person
has made a decision 'not' to go forward with the long suffering attached to many terminal deseases,
(which I have seen a few times in recent years), and allow those people to be in charge of 'how'
their death happens.

and religion should not interfere with such decisions, whatever certain people think because of their
own religion can be for 'them', not for when others decide something different for themselves.
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
+1
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by talloolaView Post

i couldn't read the whole article, too long, all i have to say is, when someone wants to end their own
life, when they are dieing anyway SHOULDN'T be called suicide, it should have a different name, to
take away the stigma and negative reaction, and give it a more gentle loving title, as the person
has made a decision 'not' to go forward with the long suffering attached to many terminal deseases,
(which I have seen a few times in recent years), and allow those people to be in charge of 'how'
their death happens.

and religion should not interfere with such decisions, whatever certain people think because of their
own religion can be for 'them', not for when others decide something different for themselves.

dead on...no pun intended...brilliant actually a dying person should be able to exit in peace with the help of those who choose to help
 
Kreskin
+3
#6
Quebeckers are very progressive with their healthcare system.
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
+1
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by KreskinView Post

Quebeckers are very progressive with their healthcare system.

I wish we were
 
Kreskin
+1
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by SalView Post

I wish we were

They take the religious arguments out of healthcare decisions.

Or perhaps not just religious but many dumb ethic arguments as well.
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
+2
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by KreskinView Post

They take the religious arguments out of healthcare decisions.

Or perhaps not just religious but many dumb ethic arguments as well.

it's strange though that all their swear words are religious and they are religious and so progressive medically while we linger lethargically behind
 
coldstream
#10
The Federal Government should use its Constitutional prerogative to override ANY provincial legislation.. that undermines Canada's social and moral safeguards.

The Harper government doesn't have the guts though. On all issues regarding the sanctity of Life.. abortion, euthenasia, homosexuality, genetic manipulation.. it gives lip service only.. then gets on with the Prime Directive of dismantling Canada's economic sovereignty by way of Free Markets and Free Trade.

Quebec used to be a stellar example of Catholic moral culture. At one time it provided the a huge influx to the Catholic priesthood of North America, much more than Ireland ever did (despite Hollywood's take on the matter).. and had a vibrant monastic and pastoral life.

It's well known now that the state of Quebec is absolutely pathetic. It leads the nation in abortions, divorces, out of wedlock pregnancies. It's fallen into the depths of the pit, as this law shows. A world of no rules, no respect for life, no moral structure or responsibility.. of a great encroaching darkness that will entangle all aspects of that society. Not that the rest of Canada is far behind.
 
Twila
+4
#11
Maybe with Quebec taking the first step it will help the other provinces see the light.
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by TwilaView Post

Maybe with Quebec taking the first step it will help the other provinces see the light.

and fall deeply into sin and degeneracy 'pparently
 
mentalfloss
+4
#13
I think they're trying to soften the suicide stigma by calling it 'dying with dignity'.

I call it empathy for those who are suffering, but that's just me.
 
QuebecCanadian
+1
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalflossView Post

I'm pretty sure they would only reject Albertans.

If you mean Quebec, it's the Ontarians we don't like. :P

Quote: Originally Posted by talloolaView Post

i couldn't read the whole article, too long, all i have to say is, when someone wants to end their own
life, when they are dieing anyway SHOULDN'T be called suicide, it should have a different name, to
take away the stigma and negative reaction, and give it a more gentle loving title, as the person
has made a decision 'not' to go forward with the long suffering attached to many terminal deseases,
(which I have seen a few times in recent years), and allow those people to be in charge of 'how'
their death happens.

and religion should not interfere with such decisions, whatever certain people think because of their
own religion can be for 'them', not for when others decide something different for themselves.

A co-worker of mine is at his mother's funeral today. She was 98. She lived in a doctor assisted senior's residence. Up until 3 weeks ago she was playing cards with the nurses. Then suddenly her body functions shut down. She was dying. The doctor asked my co-worker if he wanted his mother to go to the hospital. He said no, he didn't want to prolong her death. The doctor told him that they could place a "little star" on her chest and slowly inject (I think it was morphine he said) until she fell asleep and eventually passed. He agreed. He was so happy that his mother could go peacefully. A month ago, that would not have been a legal option.
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
+2
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by QuebecCanadianView Post

If you mean Quebec, it's the Ontarians we don't like. :P



A co-worker of mine is at his mother's funeral today. She was 98. She lived in a doctor assisted senior's residence. Up until 3 weeks ago she was playing cards with the nurses. Then suddenly her body functions shut down. She was dying. The doctor asked my co-worker if he wanted his mother to go to the hospital. He said no, he didn't want to prolong her death. The doctor told him that they could place a "little star" on her chest and slowly inject (I think it was morphine he said) until she fell asleep and eventually passed. He agreed. He was so happy that his mother could go peacefully. A month ago, that would not have been a legal option.

that is so awesome...I hope someone has that kind of compassion for me when it's time

my girlfriend's younger sister just suffered the most horrific death ever, choking on her own saliva, constantly in pain, crying to die...so fuking disgusting...pro life, in this instance is pro suffering
 
Kreskin
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by QuebecCanadianView Post

If you mean Quebec, it's the Ontarians we don't like. :P



A co-worker of mine is at his mother's funeral today. She was 98. She lived in a doctor assisted senior's residence. Up until 3 weeks ago she was playing cards with the nurses. Then suddenly her body functions shut down. She was dying. The doctor asked my co-worker if he wanted his mother to go to the hospital. He said no, he didn't want to prolong her death. The doctor told him that they could place a "little star" on her chest and slowly inject (I think it was morphine he said) until she fell asleep and eventually passed. He agreed. He was so happy that his mother could go peacefully. A month ago, that would not have been a legal option.

Stuff like that happens everywhere. Very informally.
 
WLDB
No Party Affiliation
+1
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by SalView Post

it's strange though that all their swear words are religious and they are religious and so progressive medically while we linger lethargically behind

They aren't overly religious since the quiet revolution. The church went from having way too much power before the 1960s to having next to none afterwards. I guess they had had enough. Many still refer to themselves as "Catholics" but it doesn't show in church attendance or in the way they live their lives - kind of like most other people. Im the only one in my family who formally left the church but no one in my family actually practices it.

Quote: Originally Posted by QuebecCanadianView Post

The doctor told him that they could place a "little star" on her chest and slowly inject (I think it was morphine he said) until she fell asleep and eventually passed. He agreed. He was so happy that his mother could go peacefully. A month ago, that would not have been a legal option.

They did that to my great grandfather in 1968 - from what I'm told what they did exactly wasn't uncommon but was illegal.

Quote: Originally Posted by SalView Post

and fall deeply into sin and degeneracy 'pparently

A wise man once said "Id rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints."
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
+1
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by WLDBView Post

They aren't overly religious since the quiet revolution. The church went from having way too much power before the 1960s to having next to none afterwards. I guess they had had enough. Many still refer to themselves as "Catholics" but it doesn't show in church attendance or in the way they live their lives - kind of like most other people. Im the only one in my family who formally left the church but no one in my family actually practices it.

well truth be told a lot of Catholics are that way but still want Sacrament of the Sick near the end...x's kind of have a love hate thing happening



Quote:

They did that to my great grandfather in 1968 - from what I'm told what they did exactly wasn't uncommon but was illegal.

yeah, more humane back in the day when everyone didn't sue for everything and we were just generally less invasive



Quote:

A wise man once said "Id rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints."

yeah I kinda want it all...meh, there's a surprise...
 
WLDB
No Party Affiliation
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by SalView Post

well truth be told a lot of Catholics are that way but still want Sacrament of the Sick near the end...x's kind of have a love hate thing happening

Yeah the Catholics have a nice get out of jail free card with confession and last rites.
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by WLDBView Post

Yeah the Catholics have a nice get out of jail free card with confession and last rites.

absolutely, I always liked that part and funnily enough still hold it to be true in a strange kinda way...lol
 
WLDB
No Party Affiliation
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by SalView Post

absolutely, I always liked that part and funnily enough still hold it to be true in a strange kinda way...lol

True or not at that stage it can't hurt. Though I guess there is still the fine print on whether its suicide or not (on this topic). Hard to confess if you're dead. I know they have mellowed out a lot on that but not sure to what degree. A second cousin of mine was buried at the back of the cemetery in an unmarked grave. That was pre-Vatican II though. She got a marker years later.
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
+2
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by WLDBView Post

True or not at that stage it can't hurt. Though I guess there is still the fine print on whether its suicide or not (on this topic). Hard to confess if you're dead. I know they have mellowed out a lot on that but not sure to what degree. A second cousin of mine was buried at the back of the cemetery in an unmarked grave. That was pre-Vatican II though. She got a marker years later.

here's how a priest explained it about a young mum in our community who killed herself...he said think of her mental illness like a cancer, the chemo didn't work (her drugs) and the cancer won

I thought that was a compassionate way to explain it to a family wracked by guilt and confusion.
 
El Barto
+2
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by SalView Post

here's how a priest explained it about a young mum in our community who killed herself...he said think of her mental illness like a cancer, the chemo didn't work (her drugs) and the cancer won

I thought that was a compassionate way to explain it to a family wracked by guilt and confusion.

Cheers to the priest.
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by El BartoView Post

Cheers to the priest.

that's what I thought...no hell and damnation but sensitivity and kindness...he had a Christ-like approach...in actual fact I personally haven't met many priests who were any less...I've always had a good experience with priests and I am always forth right about my belief system and lack and church going...it's never been a problem, ever.
 
taxslave
No Party Affiliation
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by coldstreamView Post

The Federal Government should use its Constitutional prerogative to override ANY provincial legislation.. that undermines Canada's social and moral safeguards.

The Harper government doesn't have the guts though. On all issues regarding the sanctity of Life.. abortion, euthenasia, homosexuality, genetic manipulation.. it gives lip service only.. then gets on with the Prime Directive of dismantling Canada's economic sovereignty by way of Free Markets and Free Trade.

Quebec used to be a stellar example of Catholic moral culture. At one time it provided the a huge influx to the Catholic priesthood of North America, much more than Ireland ever did (despite Hollywood's take on the matter).. and had a vibrant monastic and pastoral life.

It's well known now that the state of Quebec is absolutely pathetic. It leads the nation in abortions, divorces, out of wedlock pregnancies. It's fallen into the depths of the pit, as this law shows. A world of no rules, no respect for life, no moral structure or responsibility.. of a great encroaching darkness that will entangle all aspects of that society. Not that the rest of Canada is far behind.

I nominate coldstream to be the first to volunteer for assisted suicide in Quebec. Either that or his mother gets a retroactive abortion.
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
#26
Quote: Originally Posted by coldstreamView Post

The Federal Government should use its Constitutional prerogative to override ANY provincial legislation.. that undermines Canada's social and moral safeguards.

which social and moral safeguards coldstream?
 
SLM
No Party Affiliation
+1
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by SalView Post

which social and moral safeguards coldstream?

Must be the ones that state all human beings must die in writhing pain and agony. You know, the humanitarian ones.
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
+1
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by SLMView Post

Must be the ones that state all human beings must die in writhing pain and agony. You know, the humanitarian ones.

yes exactly, which is why I am wondering as I see no connection between a person's desires while dying and any moral or social codes that currently exist
 
coldstream
#29
To see where this will lead you need only look at the Netherlands, where euthenasia was legalized several years ago. It is now commonplace for comatose patients, or the elderly in various stages of dementia to be murdered absent any consent.

Belgium recently legalized the euthenasia of children, deemed to have an insufficient 'quality of life' well before they reach an age in which they can be expected to make deliberate decisions and at a level of maturity where they will be subject to 'persuasion' by others.

In fact it is now common in these countries to invent 'living wills' for relatives who have become an economic and emotional burden to the family or the state. and are in no state to make decisions for themselves.

It is a slippery slope indeed. It is incipient Naziism that will rid the nation of expensive and inconvenient 'useless eaters'.

It is a dark future that beckons.. one without moral or ethical limits. The Quiet Revolution has destroyed the soul of Quebec. The Culture of Death now rules. It deceives and it destroys.. and it accepts no governance or reason.
Last edited by coldstream; Jul 5th, 2014 at 02:31 PM..
 
Sal
No Party Affiliation
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by coldstreamView Post

To see where this will lead you need only look at the Netherlands, where euthenasia was legalized several years ago. It is now commonplace for comatose patients, or the elderly in various stages of dementia to be murdered absent any consent.

Belgium recently legalized the euthenasia of children, deemed to have an insufficient 'quality of life' well before they reach an age in which they can be expected to make deliberate decisions and at a level of maturity where they will be subject to 'persuasion' by others.

but that isn't in fact accurate: "The legislation, which grants children the right to request euthanasia if they are “in great pain” and there is no available treatment, makes Belgium the first country in the world where the age of the child is not taken into consideration. Similar legislation exists in the Netherlands, though only for children over the age of 12. In both countries, children are required to receive the consent of parents, doctors and psychiatrists."


Quote:

In fact it is now common in these countries to invent 'living wills' for relatives who have become an economic and emotional burden to the family or the state.

what is your source here coldstream?

Quote:

It is a slippery slope indeed. It is incipient Naziism that will rid the nation of expensive and inconvenient 'useless eaters'.

that's quite a strong conclusion

Quote:

It is a dark future that beckons.. one without moral or ethical limits. The Quiet Revolution has destroyed the soul of Quebec. The Culture of Death now rules. It deceives and it destroys.. and it accepts no governance or reason

we are currently in a very dark present where others control our life and dying regardless of the pain experienced or our desire to die, unless we can do so ourselves or have a compassionate doctor/staff/ medical team willing to advance our death via pain cocktails.
 

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