Public speaks out against proposed Quebec law to legalize euthanasia

by | Feb 10, 2014 | News

Quebec Parliament Building
Source: Christophe Finot, Wikimedia Commons

By: Alexis MacDonald

The National Assembly of Quebec is set to resume on Feb. 11 and the controversial topic of euthanasia is up for discussion.

The proposed Bill 52 would legalize euthanasia and allow Quebecers to make their own life-ending decisions.

Some members of Quebec are speaking out against the legislation in hopes of influencing the province not to pass it.

If the bill is passed it would be the first of its kind in Canada.

Dr. Paul Saba, a family physician and the president of the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice, said this law is going to cause unnecessary deaths.

“It’s a question of social justice,” he said. “The experiences of euthanasia in other countries, in particular Belgium, have demonstrated that despite safeguards that are put into place, they don’t work.”

Saba said studies in both the British and Canadian Medical Journals show that people who don’t give informed consent are being euthanized.

He said the demand for euthanasia could be decreased if people who were dying could be made more comfortable.

According to a 2012 report by the special committee of Dying and Dignity, as few as 20 per cent of Quebecers in certain regions had access to palliative care in hospitals.

The elderly aren’t the only ones with interest in making life-ending decisions; young people are speaking out about euthanasia as well.

Nadine Maltais, 16, won her battle with leukaemia. She said in a Canadian newswire press release that she would have refused life-saving treatment at the age of 14 if a law was in place.

She is alive and well now and speaking out against the proposed Bill 52.

The Right to Die Society said even young people should have the right to make their own end-of-life decisions.

“There is no minimum age for the ability to suffer,” said Ruth von Fuchs, president of the society.

She notes that there are some cases where young people may get better, but she said it should ultimately be their decision.

The legislation would also allow for those suffering with mental illnesses to make life-ending choices.

Von Fuchs said people who have suffered with depression most of their lives and have exhausted all treatment options should have the right to die.

“To say that you have to keep trying, after three decades and so many professionals and so many drugs, there does seem to be a point at which some people are allowed to give up,” said von Fuchs.