The Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice denounced Bill 52 which appears to be illegal since euthanasia doctors could be prosecuted criminally and the Quebec legislature could be brought before the Supreme Court of Canada. The Coalition implored the public to look at the casualties of the Belgian experience
MONTREAL, Oct. 15, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ – At a press conference, the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice announced the legal means they plan to use to stop Bill 52 which is dangerous to the health and safety of Quebecers at the end of life and those not at the end of life. « This bill is illegal in many ways », said Dr. Paul Saba.
Mr. Dominique Talarico, a lawyer, announced that the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice will ask permission to intervene in the case of Gloria Taylor and Kathleen Carter in British Columbia if the recent decision of the Court of Appeal of British Columbia is appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. In addition, in the case of Taylor and Carter, Mr. Talarico supports the decision of Judge Newbury and Judge Saunders of the British Columbia Court of Appeal. « It is clear that the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of Sue Rodriguez against British Columbia in 1993, could not be ignored in British Columbia, as it cannot be in Quebec. The Quebec government is going the wrong way by trying to legislate on the issue of euthanasia through a medical « re-branding » whereas euthanasia is exclusively the jurisdiction of the federal parliament regarding the criminal nature arising from the fact that euthanasia is a death caused by another individual. Although the term is not used by the Quebec legislature, it is clear that euthanasia is in fact euthanasia – the act of a person administering a fatal dose of a drug or lethal substance to end the life of another person. The « deception » relates to the misleading term « end-of-life care ». This does not change the application and scope of the federal law, which defines euthanasia as murder. If Quebec passes Bill 52, we will do everything we can to suspend the application of this law from the moment that it is adopted. Furthermore, we will ask the Court to pronounce the law as being invalid. If necessary, we will fight all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. »
Mr. Talarico explained how the Quebec Bar, which supports the bill, still recognizes that « assisted suicide and other forms of euthanasia remain criminal… » To circumvent this difficulty, the Quebec Bar states that « It is no longer at all certain that criminal law fulfills its true mission in end-of-life care for people at the end of life. » The Quebec Bar proposes to adopt guidelines to be published by the Quebec Attorney General for attorneys assigned to criminal and penal prosecutions in Quebec similar to those adopted in 2010 by the Prosecutor in Britain. The Bar added: « These guidelines, issued in 2010, should be adopted if the Attorney General of Quebec decides to follow this path in order to integrate the evolution of the application of the law that we propose in our present brief. » It is a Band-Aid solution to stop hemorrhaging. The Attorney General in Britain is in charge of all criminal attorneys to achieve a smooth and consistent application of the law throughout the country. In contrast, the Attorney General of Quebec has jurisdiction over attorneys practicing only in Quebec, and although the application of the Criminal Code is the responsibility of each province, the resulting application of the law would be potentially different in Quebec and could be discriminatory and subject to legal challenge. This solution is ephemeral and cannot reassure doctors from prosecution who commit a criminal offense of euthanasia.
Dr. Georges Casteur a Belgian family physician and former director of a neurological rehabilitation center in Ostend, Belgium (1976-2012), denounced the slippery slope of the Belgian euthanasia law. « The criteria appeared at first restrictive but then became increasingly wide open. The interpretation of the law is so liberal that any person may be euthanized for any reason. » He also demonstrated that the proposed Bill 52 is very broad and predicts that the same abuses that are occurring in Belgium will happen in Quebec. Currently in Belgium people who are tired of life or depressed can be euthanized on demand.
He cited the example of a 64-year-old woman who was euthanized for depression following the break-up of a relationship. A young woman with anorexia nervosa was a victim of euthanasia after an abusive sexual relationship with her psychiatrist. These cases demonstrate a slippery slope and the « permissive attitude towards euthanasia which is promoted by euthanasia doctors ».
« Furthermore, people are being denied « free and informed consent » for the following reasons: family influence (exhaustion of caregivers, enticement of early inheritance); nurses or orderlies overwhelmed at work and lacking resources; and some doctors, favourable towards euthanasia.
Dr. Paul Saba, a family physician and co-president of the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice, denounced euthanasia which has no place in the practice of modern medicine in Quebec. The position against euthanasia is supported by the World Medical Association representing nine million physicians. Is the government going to euthanize people who should not be euthanized – depressed people, people with disorders and/or disabilities, young people with diseases or depression encouraged to abandon medical treatment pre-maturely, people manipulated by their families or doctors? Dr. Saba insists that Bill 52 is a diversion for the real needs in our health care system. « It’s easy to promote the lethal injection that costs $10 when emergency rooms are overflowing and people do not have family physicians, wait months for tests and surgeries, and worry about their health. »
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Dr. Paul Saba