Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 14, 2009
Quebec consultation spurs fears of euthanasia
Opponents of assisted suicide say it may be a step toward legalization
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - The Quebec government may be trying to usurp federal jurisdiction in launching consultations on assisted-suicide says the head of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC).
While health care is a provincial matter, EPC director Alex Schadenberg raised concerns the province might use the health care framework to allow acts that are illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada. Aiding and abetting suicide is a crime in Canada.
"Basically, it is within provincial jurisdiction to look at how we provide care for people, not how we can kill them," he said.
"This is not a health matter, it is a matter of public safety," said Catholic Organization of Life and Family (COLF) director Michele Boulva. "Taking someone else's life is murder, no matter how you try to disguise it, and it is definitely an area of federal jurisdiction."
On Dec. 3, the Quebec government announced it will open a debate on assisted suicide by launching a travelling consultation. First, the province will seek the advice of about 20 experts to create a discussion paper to guide the conservation.
"I don't think there's any risk in launching a reflection," Health Minister Yves Bolduc said Dec. 3, according to the Canadian Press.
"It's a complex question and opinions are divided, but I think there's a consensus everyone would want to die with dignity and want their loved ones to die with dignity," Bolduc said.
The Quebec government made the announcement after three members of the Parti Quebecois filed a motion Dec. 2 in the National Assembly.
"The Charest government's consultation should be a call to action for all citizens who oppose these deadly practices," Boulva said.
LET US LIVE
"Let's hope associations representing Canadians with disabilities and so many other Canadians living with life-threatening conditions will stand up and clearly indicate to the government that their members want to live, said Boulva."
"They do not want to be put to death," she said. "If we take an honest look at the situation in countries where euthanasia and assisted suicide have been legalized, we will have to recognize that, no matter what the pro-euthanasia lobby says, a slippery slope does exist."
"In the Netherlands, physicians have gone from euthanasia to eugenics: they are now killing severely disabled newborns. And in many countries, patients are being euthanized without their consent."
Earlier this fall, the Quebec Collège of Physicians issued a report favouring euthanasia under limited circumstances. Its president told journalists that death can be a treatment in some cases. Polls show support for euthanasia and assisted suicide is higher in Quebec than in any other province.
Schadenberg said the physicians have added to the confusion to the debate by equating euthanasia with the use of large doses of pain medication.
"When used properly, large doses of pain medication have nothing to do with euthanasia or assisted suicide," he said.
The Quebec physicians have said euthanasia has to be legalized because there is an "invisible line" between sedating patients with pain medications and euthanizing them, Schadenberg said. "There is a real line and you can only cross it intentionally."
Boulva noted 150 Quebec physicians openly opposed the Collège's intention of recommending euthanasia in certain circumstances. "I think that is only the tip of the iceberg of physicians' opposition to the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide," she said.
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