For immediate release
Montreal, 26 February, 2020
Do we collectively seek the most permissive voluntary euthanasia program in the world?
Following Monday’s tabling of Bill C-7 in the Canadian Parliament, Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia deplore this new chapter in a political approach leading step by step to death on demand for suffering people in Canada. Bill C-7, removes the requirement that a person receiving “medical assistance in dying” (MAiD) be in a situation where natural death is reasonably foreseeable. This effectively opens the door to any Canadian who is physically sick and suffering, and who wishes it, to be legally killed by a doctor.
Let us be very clear: if this bill is not significantly amended, Canada will have the most permissive euthanasia program in the world.
The Truchon-Gladu decision of the Quebec Superior Court, the government’s refusal to appeal it, and the present bill are proof of the validity of the concerns expressed before MAiD was decriminalized in 2016. We and many other groups insisted that, once anyone is permitted to directly cause the death of another person, there is no safeguard that can prevent this “right” from being extended to groups not initially foreseen.
As opposed to Quebec, which simply decided to conform to the Truchon-Gladu decision by removing de facto the end of life criterion, the federal government at least chose to maintain the use of the reasonably foreseeable natural death criterion, as a way of creating safeguards for MAID requested by patients who are not dying.
However, despite assurances in the Preamble that “Canada is a State Party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and recognizes its obligations under it, including in respect of the right to life… [and] Parliament affirms the inherent and equal value of every person’s life and the importance of taking a human rights-based approach to disability inclusion”, Bill C-7 constitutes a threat for some citizens.
It would permit any person who has a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability, and is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability, to obtain MAID without being near the end of life, only 90 days after making the request.
We are assured that the Bill excludes MAiD on the basis of mental illness, but we know that a Parliamentary committee scheduled for a few months from now will study this possibility, as well as those of the euthanasia of mature minors and of adults incapable of decision-making who have made an advance request. We are concerned that the present bill will pave the way to extension of MAID to these groups.
The “added safeguards” promised for people whose end of life is not approaching are weak indeed. While in the Netherlands the doctor must agree that there are no other potential means of alleviating suffering before euthanizing a patient, Bill C-7 only specifies that the doctor must “ensure that the person has been informed of the means available to relieve their suffering, including, where appropriate, counselling services, mental health and disability support services, community services and palliative care …”, and “… that the person has given serious consideration to those means…” There is no need for the patient to try other options; indeed, there is no need for the means to be even available to him.
Accessibility to such services should, on the contrary, be the priority for our federal and provincial legislatures, long before any new extension of euthanasia.
The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia seeks to ensure quality medical care and respectful decision-making for vulnerable patients, especially those at risk of pressure to end their lives prematurely through euthanasia or assisted suicide, and to protect the professional integrity of all health care workers.
For further information or to request an interview with
Dr. Catherine Ferrier (Physicians’ Alliance) or Me Michel Racicot (LWD), please contact:
Charmine Francis (Coordinator)
Tel: +1 (438) 938-9410