An open letter to Canadians from the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia

Open Letter from http://collectifmedecins.org/en/open-letter/

Open Letter to the Canadian People on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Dear fellow Canadians,

On Wednesday October 15th the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the appeal in the Carter case. It will decide whether the Criminal Code’s prohibition of assisted suicide is constitutional. If the prohibition is struck down, doctors will be involved in assisted suicide and euthanasia. As physicians, we have followed with a growing sense of dismay the public debate over whether to introduce into medical practice the act of inflicting death. We write to you today to give a medical perspective on this crucial debate.

It is a long standing commitment of the medical profession ‘To cure sometimes, to relieve suffering often, and to comfort always.’ It is a breach of that commitment to inflict death. The World Medical Association [1] and the near-totality of national medical associations agree that intentionally ending patients’ lives is not an ethically acceptable part of the physician’s role. This opinion is shared by the World Palliative Care Alliance [2] and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians [3] in their assertion that Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are not now, and have never been, part of palliative care practice.

Both the effectiveness of palliative care and the fact that most Canadians who die have limited access to specialised palliative care services [4]are well recognized. Palliative care affirms life, regards dying as a normal process, and intends neither to hasten nor postpone death. In the 40 years since palliative care was introduced into Canada the ability to control pain and other symptoms is improving constantly, although problems of equitable access persist. This is a grave injustice and, many believe, a breach of human rights, but the remedy is not to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, it’s to provide the support dying people need. Indeed, legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide would introduce further injustices: those to older, disabled or ill people who may not even be dying but for whom the mere existence of such practices would be a source of subtle but effective pressure to request them, and which would place them in grave danger of abuse.

In the few countries that have attempted this hazardous social experiment, permissive laws, despite safeguards to restrict their application to a small number of extreme cases, are rapidly extended to include individuals bearing little resemblance to the initial target group. In Belgium, euthanasia is permitted by law if a patient requests it voluntarily and suffers from “constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated, resulting from a serious and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident” [5]. Despite this seemingly restrictive rule, in recent years Belgians have been legally euthanized for suffering arising from conditions ranging from glaucoma [6] to depression [7], to imprisonment [8], to multiple chronic conditions in the elderly [9], to a desire to avoid being a burden on one’s children [10]. The situation in the Netherlands is much the same [11]. It would be naive to believe that some Canadians would not give in to the same pressures to use euthanasia in an ever expanding range of circumstances – that is, the logical slippery slope is unavoidable.

In the U.S. state of Oregon, legal physician-assisted suicides are not required to be supervised [12] and the doctor is rarely present [13]. Data are based entirely on physician self-reporting [14] and information on individual cases is not available even to the police.[15] This opens the door to abuse of older and vulnerable citizens.

With good reason the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada, in the Rodriguez decision in 1993, concluded that there was no measure short of the current law that would meet the objectives of Parliament to protect the public and, in particular, vulnerable members of the public.

As medical professionals we have an obligation to protect not only the patients under our care, but also the population as a whole. The majority of physicians in Canada oppose legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide.[16] [17] A few are attempting to take a neutral stance but such a position is untenable. If you are not against these practices you are necessarily for them. A purported neutral stance on the part of physicians would be an abdication of our duty as medical doctors to put the well-being of our patients before political or other considerations.

Legalization of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide would expose you and your loved ones to grave risks, including that of wrongful death.  Legislators and doctors have an urgent duty to ensure this never happens, for clear reasons of public safety.  We urge all Canadians to heed the warning signs from those places which have made the mistake of entrenching these practices, and to oppose their introduction into health care in our country.

Balfour Mount, OC, OQ, MD, FRCSC, Emeritus Eric M. Flanders Professor of Medicine, McGill University

WDS Thomas, MD FRCS(C), past president, Canadian Medical Association; past president, Canadian Medical Protective Association

Donald Boudreau, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine; core member, Centre for Medical Education; McGill University

Sheila Rutledge Harding, MD, MA, FRCPC; Professor, Internal Medicine & Pathology; Associate Dean Medical Education, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Doris Barwich, MD, CCFP, Division of Palliative Care, University of British Columbia; past president, Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians

Margaret Cottle, MD, palliative care physician; vice president, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada

Catherine Ferrier, MD, FCFP, Division of Geriatric Medicine, McGill University Health Centre; president, Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia

Will Johnston, MD, family physician; chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of BC

Marc Beauchamp, MD, FRCSC, Orthopedic surgeon; president, Living with Dignity network

Note: Institutional affiliations are included for identification purposes only.

Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia

References:

  1. http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/e13b/
  2. World Palliative Care Alliance
  3. http://www.cspcp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/EuthanasiaPositionStatementFINAL-June142013.pdf
  4. http://www.chpca.net/media/7622/fact_sheet_hpc_in_canada_march_2013_final.pdf
  5. Lee Carter et al v Canada SCC 35591. Affidavit of Professor Etienne Montero at paragraph 24.
  6. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/belgium/9801251/Euthanasia-twins-had-nothing-to-live-for.html
  7. http://www.worldmag.com/2014/09/man_challenges_belgium_s_euthanasia_law_after_mom_s_death
  8. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29209459
  9. http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/societe/l-euthanasie-ma-mere-et-moi_472327.html;Mozilla/5.0
  10. http://rt.com/news/191280-assisted-suicide-belgium-couple/
  11. http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Boer+wrong+euthanasia+slippery+slope/10039178/story.html
  12. http://public.health.oregon.gov/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Pages/ors.aspx
  13. http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/year16-2013.pdf
  14. https://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/CommunicableDisease/CDSummaryNewsletter/Documents/1999/ohd4806.pdf    at page 2, left column
  15. Personal communication with Vivian Siu, MPH, MURP, Mortality Research Analyst, Center for Health Statistics, Oregon Health Authority, Sept. 29, 2014
  16. https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/Englishreportfinal.pdf
  17. https://www.cma.ca/En/Pages/As-CMA-meeting-nears-debate-over-end-of-life-care-increasing.aspx
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Abortion and the law in Canada

Abortion on demand ad - N.B.

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Save the baby humans

 

Action Life ran this newspaper advertisement in 1989.baby seal 2

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Ever Life matters

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The quote is from Canadian neonatologist Dr. Keith Barrington.

 

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Abortion ‘s impact on women’s health

 

 

- New Brunswick advertisement

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Life for All

 

NDSAWBillboard2013-01-1024x524

 

Richard Dawkins replied to a tweet from a woman who said she didn’t know what she would do if she was pregnant with a child with Down Syndrome by recommending that she abort the child as this was the moral thing to do: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice”

We provide part of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society’s response to Mr. Dawkins comments:

Thursday, 21 August 2014
The Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) is appalled at comments made by author Richard Dawkins in regards to the morality of having a child with Down syndrome. CDSS works to ensure equitable opportunities for all Canadians with Down syndrome by fostering a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity, worth and equal rights for ALL people.

….
We believe that the widespread use of genetic screening for the purpose of identification and termination of fetuses with Down syndrome may adversely affect the quality of life for all persons with Down syndrome and threatens the diversity and vitality that people with Down syndrome and other disabilities currently contribute to many Canadian communities.

 

 

 

 

 

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Euthanasia Bill 52 is lethal

eb62ffa2-89e4-44ab-a212-0a67d1564e9cA press release from Life Canada:

Pro-euthanasia legislation in Quebec guts the soul of medicine

June 6, 2014

For Immediate Release

Ottawa, ON – Quebec has voted to legalize euthanasia in the province under the guise of “medical aid in dying,” giving doctors the power to lethally inject their patients with the intent to end their lives.

Tragically, this law, though designed to limit euthanasia to those at the end of life, neither clearly defines what is meant by ‘end of life’ nor protects those with psychological suffering who would seek euthanasia as a means of dealing with their problems.

“The passage of Bill 52 is a corruption of medicine, that will force doctors to abandon an age-old oath they took to protect the life of every patient, namely the Hippocratic Oath”, said Natalie Sonnen, executive director of LifeCanada.” This decision by the Quebec government has gutted the soul of medicine in that Province, and will have a lasting impact on the rest of Canada.”

The elderly and disabled are particularly affected by this legislation because Bill 52 states that those eligible must be in “an advanced and irreversible decline of function.”

Particularly galling is the way that the legislation has blurred the lines between palliative care and euthanasia, by referring to euthanasia as “continuous palliative sedation”. Palliative care is a vital service that truly helps patients die with dignity, and which is currently available to only 16% of the Canadian population.

“When a doctor kills a patient, implicit in that act is the notion that the patient’s life was not worth living, and that is a powerful and destructive message that is sent to the sick, elderly, disabled, and mentally ill of our society,” said Sonnen. “No safeguards can protect us against the message that some lives will be worth fighting for and some will not.”

Safeguards are a hollow promise especially in light of studies that have shown, again and again, that they do not work. A 2010 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal is just one example. That study showed that fully one third of euthanasia deaths in Belgium were performed illegally and without patient consent.

The Quebec model for Bill 52 has been Belgium, which has received the Council of Europe’s condemnation for their decision to offer euthanasia to children. The Council wrote that the Belgian law “betrays some of the most vulnerable”.

Finally, public polling on the issue has failed to explain what has been meant by the term “medical aid in dying.” A more reliable study by Abingdon research in October 2013 showed that when the public understand that euthanasia is involved, support for the legislation drops to only 35%.

CONTACT: For more information, please contact Natalie Sonnen at 1-866-780-5433.

LifeCanada/VieCanada is a national, not-for-profit organization working to ensure respect and dignity for all Canadians.

 

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Abortion in New Brunswick

NB Graphic

73% of Atlantic Canadians do not support public funding of abortion on demand according to an Environics Research Group 2011 survey . The Morgentaler abortion clinic in Fredericton said that it would have to close this summer for financial reasons. The director of the clinic said that it could not remain open unless it received medicare funds. The Morgentaler clinic is a private facility. For years, Dr. Morgentaler sought to have abortions covered through public funds at his clinic in New Brunswick. The province of New Brunswick funds abortions in hospitals but not in private clinics and hence rejected Dr. Morgentaler’s demands.

As for the rest of Canada,  the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario Québec and Newfoundland pay for abortions  performed in hospitals and private clinics. Other provinces pay for abortions done in hospitals. Some provinces do not have private abortion facilities.

The Canada Health Act does not require that abortions be funded.  In fact the Canada Health Act does not mention abortion. It requires only that medically necessary services performed by a physician be provincially funded.

Does abortion qualify as a medically necessary service? Canadian Physicians for Life have said:

“Abortion is not an essential medical service. It is designated “medically necessary” for purely social and political, not medical, reasons. Pregnancy is not  an”injury, illness or disease.” There is no proof that abortion improves health.  In fact it disrupts a normal physiological process, poses a risk to the mother, and ends the life of her developing child. There is no “medical necessity” where no medical benefit or health risk exists.”

“To justify funding of a service, the medical necessity and therapeutic value of that service should be undisputed.”

Abortion advocates lobbied for abortion under the banner of “choice” but expect the taxpayer to fund this “choice”.

 

 

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Life before birth

prenatal-banner

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Caring not Killing!

euthanasia flyer - 2014Euthanasia and assisted suicide are the end of all care.  Euthanasia and assisted suicide are not “medical aid in dying”  but medical killing.

In a letter to the Montreal Gazette dated April 23, 2014, Dr. Balfour Mount, the founder of palliative care in Canada and Dr. Serge Daneault, Chief, Palliative Care Service, Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, highlight the dangers of Bill 52. The Québec government’s Bill 52 would legalize euthanasia in the province. They write:

“It is impossible to legalize euthanasia without putting vulnerable patients at risk, as the experience in Belgium and other countries shows clearly. Bill 52, with or without the amendments, goes even farther than the Belgian law; it defines medical homicide as health care and requires that it be available to all patients who meet the exceedingly broad criteria set out in the bill.

The public, which seems to be clamouring for so-called death with dignity , is largely unaware that what is being proposed to them is a homicidal act and that skilled palliative care and wise management of end of life decisions are sufficient to address the fears leading to their request.”

Canadians need improved access to quality palliative care not medical killing.

 

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