Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
November 9, 2009
Catholics shocked by doctor's support for euthanasia
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - The Quebec College of Physicians has released a reflection on euthanasia that describes the willful termination of a patient's life as a legitimate treatment.
"We believe that a new sensitivity is clearly evident among doctors and the public that is increasingly pluralistic," said the college's secretary Dr. Yves Robert in a statement.
"The new tendency is to acknowledge that there do exist certain exceptional situations where euthanasia could be considered by the patient to be an ultimate and necessary step in assuring the patient receives the appropriate and quality care to the very end."
In case the published statement was not clear enough, Dr. Robert put it more bluntly at a Montreal news conference Nov. 3: "We are saying death can be an appropriate type of care in certain circumstances."
The president of the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies (CFCPS) Dr. Tim Lau greeted the news with shock.
"To call the killing of your patient a treatment will turn medicine on its head," Lau said in an interview.
Though the college had signaled last summer it might move in this direction, Lau said the final report is far worse than he anticipated.
Lau suggested the college is confusing the withdrawal of futile treatments - which is legal - and the use of sedatives and pain relievers - which are also legal - with deliberately killing somebody.
"In some ways it's nice to have them come out openly to say what they actually believe," he said.
Lau suggested the confusion might be deliberate, to convince people that euthanasia is already happening and "something that's good."
He contrasted the Quebec College of Physician's approach with that of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) which came out with a clear response against Bloc Quebecois MP's Bill C-384.
The CMA has said palliative care and anti-suicide programs should be promoted, Lau said.
If doctors are killing their patients, the circumstances should be investigated, not necessarily to prosecute but to "figure out what's going on," he said. "Good palliative care should not involve the deliberate attempt to kill someone."
The CMA is like a doctor's "union," Lau said, while the colleges are regulatory bodies.
"The colleges are the ones that enforce a certain code, they shouldn't be the ones either making the code or making the law," he said. "If your police who are walking the beat are also deciding what the laws should be, that's a problem. There should be a conflict of interest that should be obvious to everyone."
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