This February, The Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the Canadian law that makes it illegal for anyone to help people end their own lives should be amended to allow doctors to help in specific situations. The court gave federal and provincial governments 12 months to craft legislation to respond to the ruling. Until then; the ban on doctor-assisted suicide stands. If the government doesn’t write a new law, the court’s exemption for physicians will stand.
Against this ghastly situation, however, there are welcome voices of opposition.
In a September article in the Canadian press titled “Quebec’s split over euthanasia a warning for Canada”, reporter Allan Woods writes:
But with time running out before Dec. 10 — the date that patients can begin requesting the procedure — hospitals and health-care providers are scrambling to draw up policies and find the staff who will carry out those patients’ wishes.
If that wasn’t tough enough, some of those who might be expected to lead the change — palliative care physicians and hospice administrators — have let it be known that they are instead digging trenches for the battle.
“The vocation of a palliative care hospice is to provide care, and that doesn’t include medical aid in dying,” said Élise Rheault, director of Maison Albatros Trois-Rivières.
Mr. Woods goes on to write that:
Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, a doctor himself, says the refusal by the province’s hospices to provide the procedure amounts to “administrative fundamentalism” and he accused palliative care doctors — who have a right under the law to conscientious objection — of acting like hospital owners rather than service providers.
“The law was very much framed as being in a continuum, along the lines of (euthanasia) being the end part of palliative care, so it is a logistical problem if the significant majority of palliative-care professionals are saying we will invoke conscientious objection,” said Dr. Eugene Bereza, director of the Centre for Applied Ethics at the McGill University Health Centre.
This horrific development in our neighbor Canada is a warning to those in the US, especially with a California law rammed though the legislature and now sitting on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk awaiting either his signature or veto.