The government of Quebec passed Bill 52 legalizing euthanasia in June 2014, calling it ‘medical aid in dying’. Euthanasia can be provided in the province beginning December 10, 2015. The province has no jurisdiction in making legal what is a matter for the Criminal Code of Canada. Euthanasia is prohibited by the Criminal Code. But the provincial government called euthanasia “health care” and since health care is a provincial jurisdiction, the government proceeded with its own agenda and the bill was adopted by a vote of 94 to 22.
This was done prior to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Carter v. Canada in February 2015 striking down Sections 241 and 14 of the Criminal Code which forbid assisted suicide (241)and euthanasia (14). The Supreme Court suspended its judgement for one year giving the federal government 12 months to draft new legislation if it so chooses.
The law in Quebec comes into effect on December 10, 2015. The prohibition against euthanasia in Canada will still be in force.
Regardless of the euphemism used to describe euthanasia, ‘medical aid in dying’ is not health care, it is killing.
Now the Quebec College of Physicians in its “Practice guideline for medical aid in dying” is ordering physicians to list the cause of death on the death certificate as the underlying illness or condition rather than euthanasia. The College is thus requesting that physicians falsify the death certificate. This would be hiding the true cause of death of the patient. Where is honesty and ethics in such a practice?
The Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia commented: “It goes without saying that such a practice constitutes a severe breach of ethics, and it will inevitably lead to serious abuse, in addition to distorting the official statistics on the real causes of death in Quebec.”
Lawyer Hugh Scher was counsel for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition in a number of cases including recently Carter v. Canada. He tells AdvocateDaily.com that this proposal “represents a serious threat to transparency and accountability in the application of the Quebec euthanasia regime.”
“The notion that doctors should be permitted to falsify death certificates so as to hide the true cause of death in cases of euthanasia is a troubling affront to medical ethics, transparency and accountability,” says Scher.